Saturday, May 27, 2017

US Navy buying many more Super Hornets than previously this a result of the report on the F-35C vs SH????

Thanks to Colin for the link!

via Flightglobal.
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would add funding to buy up to 74 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets through 2022, or 60 more than planned in previous budget forecasts.

The Navy is requesting 14 Super Hornets in Fiscal 2018 to mitigate the service’s strike fighter shortfall, officials said this week. In addition, Trump’s budget proposal inserts new plans to procure 23 more F/A-18E/Fs in FY2019, 14 in FY2020, 14 in FY2021 and 15 in FY2022. The recent request not only includes funding for new Super Hornets, but also advanced procurement dollars to address advanced capabilities.

While Boeing celebrated the intended purchase of new F/A-18E/Fs as a sign that the Trump administration would commit to funding Super Hornets year after year, the status of the five-year funding plan is not settled. During a budget rollout briefing this week, Pentagon officials warned that procurement numbers beyond FY2018 would be subject to change following the outcome of a defence strategy review due this August. John Roth, the Pentagon's deputy comptroller, emphasised that the long-term budget was not informed by strategy or policy.

“We have focused on getting a budget ready for FY2017 and then we pivoted to get '18 done to meet this date as well, the secretary has not spent anytime looking beyond '18,” he says.
I've been beating on a drum shouting for a defense reporter to corner Mattis and ask about the report he had commissioned on the F-35C vs Super Hornet for the US Navy.

That report was suppose to be out no later than the end of March but we heard nothing.

Now we have this.  I think we have our answer on the study.

That does leave an interesting tidbit though.  I didn't highlight it above so I'll do it here...
 During a budget rollout briefing this week, Pentagon officials warned that procurement numbers beyond FY2018 would be subject to change following the outcome of a defence strategy review due this August.
A defense review?  Hmm.  That's beyond interesting.  I want to remind everyone of this article from way back in 2015. via CTMirror.
For years, the Pentagon was inflexible when talking about the number of F-35s it wants to buy — 2,443 — pushing back against any suggestions that it should trim that shopping list. But no more.
The high price tag of the F-35, a Lockheed Martin aircraft whose engine is made by Pratt & Whitney, has made some Pentagon officials consider whether the Defense Department can afford as many of the Joint Strike Fighters as they had once planned.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee this summer that the Pentagon is “presently taking the newest strategic foundation and analyzing whether 2,443 aircraft is the correct number.”
When asked by the same committee: “Do you believe the Navy can afford and needs to procure 310 more F-35Cs with a procurement cost of over $42 billion?”  Chief Naval Officer Adm. John Richardson said he would work to “re-validate the appropriate number of aircraft the Navy requires.”

Plans right now are for the Navy to purchase 340 F-35Cs, the version of the plane designed to operate from aircraft carriers. The Marines and Air Force would receive different versions of the fighter plane. Other versions of the Joint Strike Fighter are being sold to U.S. allies.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the head of Senate Armed Services Committee and a frequent critic of the F-35 program, said the numbers the Pentagon has been quoting are inflated.
“There’s just not going to be that many,” McCain said.
In an interview, McCain said the Pentagon has to look “realistically” at how many weapons systems it can afford.
“The question is, at the present cost, can we afford as many F-35s?” he asked.
McCain said he will press the Pentagon to determine how many planes the services need.
Knowing the F-35 fan club they'll immediately say that the price has decreased dramatically since 2015.  My response would be that they're all basically prototypes that will all need to be upgraded.  Check this out via National Interest.
 The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is voicing opposition to the Pentagon’s plan to manage the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s Block 4 upgrade as a continuation of the existing program. The planned upgrade—which is expected to cost more than $3 billion—is large enough to qualify a major defense acquisition program by itself.

“This modernization effort is like a new program with estimated costs of about $3 billion over the next six years,” Michael Sullivan, director of acquisition and sourcing management issues at GAO, told the House Armed Services Committee on March 23. “That price alone would qualify it as a major defense acquisition program in it own right and it should be managed as such.”
So my theory is that the Pentagon is laying out its "get out of jail free card" and is going to use the study to cut the number of F-35's it buys.

The biggest evidence is the Super Hornet purchase.  Every new Super is one less F-35C.

SIDENOTE!  This extra 3 billion dollars is "big enough for a separate program"?!?!?!  Another hidden cost that most aren't aware of!

Global economic weirdness....

via Reuters.
The current level of U.S. prices is noticeably lower than what it would be if the Federal Reserve had delivered on its 2-percent inflation target, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said, calling the trend "worrisome."

In slides prepared for delivery in Tokyo on Friday, the U.S. central banker said U.S. prices are now 4.6 percent below the price level path established from 1995 to 2012, when inflation was growing near the Fed's target of 2 percent each year.

"This is not as severe as the 1990s Japanese experience, but it is worrisome," said Bullard, who does not vote on U.S. monetary policy this year.

Too-low inflation has kept the Fed from raising rates more than three times since the Great Recession, but since late last year most Fed policymakers have seen faster rate increases ahead, citing improvements in the labor market.

Bullard also said he sees minimal impact on long-term bond yields from reductions in the Fed's balance sheet, which he hopes will start in the second half of this year.

Bullard, speaking to reporters after the speech, said it was good to cap the amount of mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries that are allowed to run off the Fed's balance sheet. However, he was indifferent to what the size of the caps should be.

The Fed is monitoring subprime auto and student loans but they are not near danger levels, he added.

U.S unemployment registered 4.4 percent in April, below what Fed officials believe is a sustainable level. Most Fed officials expect to raise the target interest rate three times this year, including the increase they made after their March policy meeting

But Bullard said that a surge in inflation is unlikely even if unemployment falls further.
We have full employment, have supposedly just recovered from a great recession, have low gas prices, and creditors are giving it away if you have a pulse and no inflation?

That's weird.

But wait it gets better.  Check out what's happening in China. via Reuters.
China's structural reforms will slow the pace of its debt build-up but will not be enough to arrest it, and another credit rating cut for the country is possible down the road unless it gets its ballooning credit in check, officials at Moody's said.

The comments came two days after Moody's downgraded China's sovereign ratings by one notch to A1, saying it expects the financial strength of the world's second-largest economy to erode in coming years as growth slows and debt continues to mount.

In announcing the downgrade, Moody's Investors Service also changed its outlook on China from "negative" to "stable", suggesting no further ratings changes for some time.

China has strongly criticized the downgrade, asserting it was based on "inappropriate methodology", exaggerating difficulties facing the economy and underestimating the government's reform efforts.

In response, senior Moody's official Marie Diron said on Friday that the ratings agency has been encouraged by the "vast reform agenda" undertaken by the Chinese authorities to contain risks from the rapid rise in debt.

However, while Moody's believes the reforms may slow the pace at which debt is rising, they will not be enough to arrest the trend and levels will not drop dramatically, Diron said.

Diron said China's economic recovery since late last year was mainly thanks to policy stimulus, and expects Beijing will continue to rely on pump-priming to meet its official economic growth targets, adding to the debt overhang.
Go here to check out the ratings chart (covers Moodys, Fitch and S&P).  What had me spinning was the idea that China had an "economic recovery" last year.  How did we miss that?  I thought if China caught a cold the rest of the world would get pneumonia!

Back on task.

Something weird is going on with the global economy.  Warning signs?  I won't even make that call (been wrong too many times) but you have to admit...this is a bit off.

Open Comment Post. May 27, 2017

Remember the San Bernardino Terror Attack? Coroner says the shooter died in a mist of blood...

pic and story from
The shootout with Farook: A San Bernardino police sergeant recalled grabbing a rifle from his son—a fellow officer—and pointing it straight at Farook, shooting at him five or six times. "One of the rounds passed through Farook, who had exited the vehicle, causing a mist of blood on impact," the report says. "Farook fell to the ground but was still moving." Farook clutched his rifle as he lay on the ground. The sergeant fired twice more at him. An autopsy found Farook was shot 27 times.

Rounds fired: The suspects fired about 80 rounds from rifles and one bullet from a handgun. Officers shot 440 rounds from rifles, shotguns, and handguns.
Story here. 

Wow.  They did not spare the horsepower on this guy did they.  Shot 27 times?  I bet he was hamburger.  I don't want to spoil it but apparently two separate gunfights took place (if I'm reading this right).  Go to Newser's house to read about the fight with Farook's wife.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Politics Talk. The press is going crazy cause they're reaping what they've sown?

via Robert Reich's Page.

After the attack, Jacobs was evaluated in an ambulance at the scene and taken to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. Several hours later he left the hospital wearing a sling around his arm.

Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault.

Donald Trump’s reaction? In Sicily for the G-7 summit, he praised Greg Gianforte’s election as a “great win in Montana.”

For years, conservatives warned that liberals were “defining deviancy downward” by tolerating bad social behavior.

Donald Trump is actively defining deviancy downward in American politics. He’s making America meaner.

Last year, Trump said of a protester at one of his campaign rallies: “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

In a different era, when decency was the norm, House members would not seat a thug like Gianforte in the chamber. In the age of Trump, it’s okay to beat up a reporter.

Charlie Sykes, a conservative former talk-show host in Wisconsin, says “every time something like Montana happens, Republicans adjust their standards and put an emphasis on team loyalty. They normalize and accept previously unacceptable behavior.”

Gianforte’s attack on Jacobs was shameful enough. Almost as shameful was Gianforte’s press release about what occurred, written immediately afterward by his campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon:

“Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.“

It was all a blatant lie, as confirmed by the Fox News crew that watched the whole thing. But under Trump, blatant lying is the new normal.

And a “liberal journalist” is the enemy.
I've watched coverage of the "body slammed journalist" and have been a bit amazed.  A little background first.  I've watched Sean Spicers news conferences and the reporters have been almost animalistic in their behavior, talk to the guy with barely concealed contempt and demean him in their very questions.

Additionally I've watched while the news media has taken sides in the political process.  At one time they tried to hide who they were rooting for, but today they blatantly wave their liberal politics in the face of any who will listen.

Now back on task.

What did the media expect?  They harass people and think that behavior is to be applauded.  They continue to ask questions after a person says they have no further comment?

The truth is stark.  The news media is part of the democrat resistance.  They are the enemy.

Singapore Army Next Generation ARV prototype

pic via Janes 360

Olight makes a 1200 lumen pistol mounted light!


Simply amazing.  I'm still figuring on a new EDC light and Olight makes a weapon light that is the right size, right lumens and right price?

Why can't they give me all this with a tail clicker?

Why didn't the USAF go with a 2 seat F-16 and call it a day on the next gen trainer?

A reader made this comment that stopped me in my tracks...
Welcome back F16A....this could be the next freedom fighter...
If you've been following the short history of the USAF's search for a next gen fighter then you know that the wish list was pretty intense.  They wanted the whole package.  They wanted frontline fighter performance in their trainer.

Of course this makes me wonder.

Was Marius right?  Should they just have bought new 2 seat F-16's and got this off the books asap?  Is this a case of the bureaucracy being so damning that they make work instead of search for quick and easy solutions?

I think so.

Super Hornets to get infrared search and track system

via UPI
 Boeing has received an $89 million contract to incorporate the Block II Infrared Search and Track System, or IRST, in the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, the Department of Defense announced on Thursday.

The contract includes design and development, hardware procurement, technical reviews, risk reduction, and product support and engineering tasks.

Work will be conducted in Orlando, Fla., and St. Louis, Mo. The project is expected to be completed by April 2020. Navy Fiscal 2017 research, development, testing, and evaluation funds of $21 million will be allocated to the program at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the fiscal year.

The IRST is designed to locate the heat emitted by aircraft engines without the use of active radar, which is easily detected by enemy planes and ships. It also helps countering stealth technology.
And the tech to kill stealth continues to spread....absolutely awesome.  Even better?  I wonder how this will help Marines on the ground...we can work something out I'm sure.

HMAS Adelaide is seriously jacked up!

via Defence Connect
The investigation into the problems facing Navantia-built HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide continue, with Navantia Australia’s managing director unable to confirm when the problem is expected to be resolved.
Speaking to Defence Connect, Francisco Barón said although they are unable to disclose an time frame on when both amphibious ships will be at full operational capability, he is confident the problems are "not really an issue".

"We are working in the collaborative environment so we are putting all our expertise available to the Navy," Barón said.

"As you can understand the RAN are leading the process and we cannot elaborate, there's too much coverage in the media, and from that point of view we leave this to the people in Defence to comment, but we are working on it.

"I am very optimistic that this is something that is not really an issue whatsoever ... you have a car, it has a few issues, you have to go over them."

At this stage HMAS Adelaide will no longer participate in next month's planned Talisman Sabre exercises with the US, and it remains too early to determine whether HMAS Canberra will take part.

HMAS Canberra was commissioned into service in 2014, while her sister ship HMAS Adelaide was commissioned 18 months ago.

The vessels were both built in Spain by Navantia but the engines were installed by engineers from Siemens before maintenance was carried out by BAE Systems engineers.

Both ships have been docked at Sydney's Garden Island since March this year and many theories about the problems with the vessels have been put forward.

Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne has previously denied reports that the wrong oil was put in the engines of the $1.5 billion warships.

"There are two landing helicopters dock [LHDs] or helicopter carriers, if you like," said Minister Pyne.

"One of them was discovered to have a propulsion problem when it was out on manoeuvres and to check whether the other one had the same issues. That was looked at, it was found to have the same issues so both are being fixed in routine maintenance programs as is normally the case. It certainly had nothing to do with oil, I don’t know where that story came from."

The minister also echoed Barón's comments that any problems with the ships are minor.

"It’s not a big stuff up, it’s a very minor problem that is being beaten up out of all proportions. We have many other ships of the line that are in practice right now, out on the seas and these will be fixed," Minister Pyne said.

"I doubt that [it will take six months to fix] very much ... it's not a major problem."

More recently the Minister added "the reality is that there are very many platforms in our armed forces ... Nobody ever expects a piece of equipment to never have a problem in its entire lifetime. It’s good that these problems have been discovered now when the ships are not in any kind of active duty."
Wow.  Aussies have no luck.

$800 Kiwano K01 monowheel electric scooter

This is just plain cool.  Big cities could use this type of transportation and start closing down some of those congested roads.

Personal transportation that a city dweller can store in their apartment?  Pretty awesome!

LM-100J Makes First Flight

I was gonna include the press release but its the usual usual.  Is it my imagination or is this the Brit stretched model?  Anyway, this plane should sell.

Not too many WW2 bombers and seaplanes left to convert into aerial tankers so a replacement will be needed.  As far as the commercial market for cargo planes is concerned, I have no idea.  We'll see what we'll see, but the Russians have the outsized cargo market cornered with that big plane they have.  Maybe someone should consider refurbishing C-141's and C-5's.....