Thursday, January 17, 2019

Open Comment Post. 17 Jan 2019

VBSS aboard the USS by Cpl. Danny Gonzalez

That's got to be the LOWEST fast rope in the history of fast roping!!!

Flashback: Desert Shield- Desert Storm...Video by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels

LCACs land ashore in Greece for Exercise Alexander the Great by Staff Sgt. Andrew Ochoa

Dang!  Europe is getting blasted with snow!

Just when I was beginning to think the F-35 had turned the corner, Thompson let's us know the worse is yet to come...

via Forbes.
If you pay any attention to U.S. military budgets and programs though, you are probably going to be hearing a lot more about F-35 sustainment in the years ahead.  With development hurdles surmounted, keeping the F-35 flying now bulks as the biggest bill that the program will need to pay.  I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation last year and came to the conclusion F-35 sustainment will cost an average of $11.8 billion per year in today’s dollars through 2070 if the military services buy all the fighters they say they need.  My calculation was based on outdated data, but it illustrates the scale of resources that might be required.

The good news is that $11.8 billion is about one day’s worth of federal spending at current rates to sustain most of the tactical aircraft in the joint fleet for a year–aircraft far more capable than the planes in the fleet today.  The bad news is that the Pentagon has never spent anywhere near this amount of money sustaining a single family of aircraft, so controversy is likely.  In fact, it is already upon us to some degree.

In December the Pentagon’s Under Secretary for Acquisition & Sustainment, Ellen Lord, sent a report to Congress describing the gap between what the F-35 is expected to cost to keep flying through 2070 and the amount of money the military services say they have available for that purpose.  There is a reasonable degree of alignment between resources and needs in the case of the sea services, but in the case of the Air Force there is a big gap.  Specifically, the Pentagon says it costs about $7 million to operate each Air Force variant of the plane per year, and the service can only afford about $4 million.  So a 43% gap needs to be closed.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds, because F-35 has just begun operating in limited numbers and sustainment concepts are still being refined.  Eventually there will be economies of scale due to size and commonality across the join fleet, and sustainers will move down the learning curve in pursuing efficiencies.  For instance, contractor Lockheed Martin maintains an F-35 with three personnel, while the Air Force provides similar support with nine personnel.  The difference is mainly organizational, and over time the Air Force will likely implement efficiencies.

New planes such as F-35 are invariably are more expensive to sustain than mature planes that have been flying for many years.  The supply chain for spare parts has not been ironed out, maintainers don’t fully understand all the intricacies of a new system, and large organizations are slow to adapt to changing technology.  F-35 compounds these problems because it is revolutionary in all regards, from its stealthy airframe to its super-efficient engines to its sensing capabilities that seldom get discussed in public.

F-35 is actually the first fighter ever built that had a sustainment system developed in parallel, but so much has changed in the world of information technology since the program’s inception that the sustainment system may need to be rearchitected.  Once the dozens of efficiency initiatives being implemented by the joint program office and services are in place, the Air Force variant will probably cost around $25,000 per hour to operate, compared with around $20,000 per hour for a legacy F-16.  That is arguably a bargain, when you consider how much more survivable, lethal and capable the F-35 is.

But much of the context surrounding such judgments will get lost in media reporting on sustainment costs.  What news consumers will get is eye-popping projections of future costs, because whopping price-tags are what attract those eyes to a story in the first place.  In other words, media coverage of F-35 sustainment could end up being just as misleading (meaning wrong) as coverage of the plane’s development was.  So fasten your seatbelt; it will all work out in the end.
Story here. 

Wow.  Do you get the force of connection here???

First Thompson just shitted on the talking point that legacy planes are more expensive to maintain than new jets.  I know for a fact that the Marine Corps has been rolling out the chestnut that old aircraft are eating up maintenance budgets!  Now we have Thompson switching things up BIG TIME!~

Second did he actually tell us that the sustainment system developed for the F-35 is already obsolete?  DID HE ACTUALLY SAY THAT!!!

I'm flabbergasted!  Dude tells us that his knowledge of this subject is as limited as our own and then he makes pronouncements about everything being good to go.

The most eye watering part of this entire article is this....
Specifically, the Pentagon says it costs about $7 million to operate each Air Force variant of the plane per year, and the service can only afford about $4 million.  So a 43% gap needs to be closed.
The F-35A is the LEAST complex model!  If the USAF has a gap in funding then you know the USMC and US Navy have got to be fucked...proper fucked!

You don't close that big a funding gap with "efficiencies"!!!

I was beginning to think that maybe the F-35 wasn't the clusterfuck I imagined when the 56th Fighter Wing put out the video of the demo practice, but now Thompson has yanked me back to reality.

We can't afford the F-35.

Chinese Army Aviation exercise in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region...

Analyst say that the J-20 is overwhelmingly superior to the F-35...

via Global Times.
By selling the stealth fighter jets to its allies in the West Pacific region, the US is building an “F-35 friend circle,” Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The US, Japan and South Korea may conduct more joint exercises near China using the F-35, making it easy for coordination, Wei said. The stealth capability makes the F-35 more difficult to detect and will impact China’s national defense needs, he said.

Equipped with an advanced weapon system and capable of stealth and supersonic cruising, the F-35 is regarded as one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world. But China is no sitting duck in a potential clash with the US fighter jet.

China’s fifth generation fighter jet J-20, which has been in service under the People’s Liberation Army Air Force since early 2018, is endowed with state-of-the-art aviation and electronic technologies. Its range and weapons payload are widely considered to be better than the F-35’s, enabling it to achieve its main mission of gaining aerial superiority in a 21st Century battlefield.

Moreover, the J-20 has room for improvement. An upgraded version of the J-20 will have “overwhelming superiority” to the F-35 in the future, Wei said.
China’s passive radars and meter wave radars can also detect stealth aircraft, and can guide anti-aircraft missiles such as the HQ-9 and HQ-16 to destroy them, Wei noted.

Meanwhile, the F-35 has its share of problems.

The F-35’s stealth capability, one of the most important features that set it apart from previous generations of fighter jets, requires very high maintenance cost, as the radar wave-absorbing coating wears off and needs to be replaced after every flight, the report said.

In September 2018, an F-35B under the US Marine Corps crashed due to faulty fuel-lines. F-35 jets have in the past made emergency landings, experienced in-flight incidents, including oxygen deprivation among crews, and suffered from engine fires and other failures on the ground, the Washington Post reported.

The Chinese military has not made public any reports of malfunctions of the J-20.
Read the whole thing this estimate is easily dismissed except for one undisputed fact.  The latest estimate of China's defense force indicates that they've damn near closed the gap.  So in that light I have to wonder if this might...just true.

Special operations soldiers assigned to an airborne troop with a brigade under the PLA Air Force fast-rope from a transport helicopter

Poland Speeds Up Armored Multi-Role Vehicle Procurement

via Defense 24.
Even though no information has been released by the MoD, when it comes to the offers placed within the framework of the Pegaz programme, several vehicles have been promoted for quite some time now, within the framework of this procurement.

These platforms include:
*  KMW/Rheinmetall AMPV


*  Thales HAWKEI

*  HCP S.A./Tatra Defence Vehicles Husar

*  AMZ Kutno Tur
Story here. 

Follow the link to get the flavor of the article but the takeaway is kinda clear.  They're moving forward with a JLTV counterpart in concert with the rest of the world.  What I found interesting is the companies offering solutions.

I didn't report on it but you can practically scratch the Thales Hawkei from the list.  I just read an article on the vehicle and its not meeting reliability standards.  The only reason why the Aussies appear to be sticking with it from my chair is the fact that its homegrown.  The AMPV seems like a solid vehicle as does the Eagle V.  The problem there is that we're looking at some kind of offset I imagine to get Poland to even consider them.

Which brings me to AMZ's offering.  It's homegrown, solid and would meet their needs.  Unless we see another Polish AMV in the making then I think we already know the eventual winner.

Russian tank crews fear Ukraine’s new Javelin missiles

via KyivPost.
Russian tank commanders are allegedly refusing to deploy their armored vehicles against Ukrainian forces in the country’s eastern Donbas region for fear of Ukraine’s new Javelin anti-tank missiles, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Jan. 15.

Poroshenko, speaking to reporters and members of the public during an event in Ukraine’s northwestern Volyn Oblast, said that the new weapons were having their desired, deterrent effect.

Since the Ukrainian army took possession of 210 of the American-made, vehicle-busting missiles, Russian tank crews have been refusing to risk their lives and equipment, he claimed, saying the weapons were having a “psychological” effect.

“We’re not seeing tank attacks now. This is the effect of only one type of weapon,” Poroshenko said, referring to the Javelin missiles, as reported by the UNIAN news agency.

Toward the end of 2017, as Ukraine entered its third year in defending itself against Russian hybrid warfare in the country’s east, the United States approved the sale of lethal weaponry to Ukraine.

In March 2018, the U.S. State Department approved export licenses for 210 missiles and 37 launchers worth an estimated $47 million. American soldiers provided training to the Ukrainian armed forces before they could be deployed.

Ukrainian soldiers began testing the weapons in May, 2018. However, according to previous statements by Ukrainian and U.S. officials, the weapons are not deployed on the front lines, but are kept in areas deep in the rear defensive zone, to be used only if a Russian armored offensive attempts to break through the forward lines.

The Javelin is a man-portable, fire-and-forget missile system that uses infrared guidance to hone in on a target, usually an armored vehicle but sometimes used against fortified positions too. The American-made weapon is now used by 22 countries, all U.S. allies.

Russian-supplied tanks and heavy weapons are still present in the Donbas, although these days they appear to be safely removed from the contact line where Ukrainian armed forces exchange fire with rebels and Russian proxies on a near daily basis, despite ceasefire agreements.

On Jan. 13, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, said that an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by its Special Monitoring Mission, or SMM, spotted 21 tanks parked at a “training area” near Ternove, some 57 kilometers east of Donetsk.

On Jan. 10, the SMM said its aerial vehicles had spotted five tanks parked in another so-called training area some 40 kilometers north-east of Donetsk – areas not under Ukrainian control.
This sorta sounds like a bit of bluster.  The Russians have been in Syria and have a good idea on how the Javelin works. 

But what if this is true?

Nah...but it does sound good.