Monday, February 10, 2014

How the Air Combat Element (USMC) is destroying the Marine Corps.

Thanks to USMC 0802 for pointing me to this article!

LtCol J.W. Hammond (USMC, Ret.) wrote an outstanding article about an issue that has consumed so many pages here on SNAFU! Blog.

The Air Combat Element is destroying the Marine Corps.

Everyone inside the Corps sees it.  Everyone senses that this is wrong.  But few have been able to put into words how dangerous this is to the USMC as an organization.

Consider the above table.

Take it in and look at the costs of those birds.

Then consider the rationale behind the cancellation of the EFV, the 10 year (!) delay to the MPC, and even the delayed upgrade of the AAV.


Read the entire article here and weep for the Marine Corps.


  1. Replies
    1. its enough to make you want to punch walls. the entire DoD has lost its mind. i just read that the USAF is considering delaying (once considered rumors) of the CAPES upgrade to the F-16 and the killed squadrons are all but a done deal. the US Navy is still searching for money to pay for the F-35 and the carrier cut is off the table (i smell lockheed behind that...all the carriers, more work and need for the F-35).

      but common sense appears to be making a comeback. lets hope its not too late.

    2. Well, it was the marine corp that absolutely insisted on the X-35, when the other branches could have gone either way. The X-32 would not have had same development problems as the X-35 because the airforce and navy jets were based on a shared common airframe while the X-32B was a unique airframe of its own, ensuring that the F-32A and C would be entering IOC around now even if the F-32B went nowhere.

      So just do remember that the USMC was instrumental in bringing the apocalypse upon US and allied air power.

      As for the CAPES thing, this would not have failed if the USAF stayed clear of Lockheed Martin's offer and went with BAE's half-priced offer instead.

  2. The PAUC (Program Acquisition Unit Cost) listed above divides the total acquisition expense, including research and development (R&D), procurement and military construction funds. That's just a sketchy estimate of what future planes would cost, for several reasons, one being that this plane is still in devel0pment and has experienced serious problems which haven't been corrected. And that's early in the test program, when the planes haven't been put to their full-bore testing.

    Also the PAUC costs are for the airframe. You want an engine with that? Add another $26m, and then a like amount for the lift system.

    Actually nobody knows what these numbers will be since the airframe, engine and lift system would all be sole-source procurement where the prospective contractor sets the price, and it's take it or leave it time for Uncle Samuel. Through shoddy program management the government owns none of the data rights so it would have almost zero bargaining power.

  3. I can see LM behind the CAPES cut, but not the carrier decision. Anyway, the RoK is going with another vendor team to upgrade their F-16s, and Boeing is making noises about developing a package for Singapore and others. As for Marine aviation, the -53s are needed, the H-1s are basically sunk costs, but you could stop buying them and the MV-22, and buy -60s. The downside of the -60s is that introduces another maintenance pipeline into the LHA/Ds, but they are a common airframe within the fleet. The author does not address the F-35 situation, likely because there are few options other than eliminating the seaborne fixed wing component. Some bad decisions were made, but when Amos goes away, rational thinking may surface.

  4. The MC says it needs 340 F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off Vertical Land) aircraft. Operating from short, primitive airstrips is really important, and the B will be replacing the Harrier which had a similar capability necessary eighty percent of the time in field operations.

    But last summer something happened. The F-35 in general, and the B in particular, were faced with astronomical operating costs which instead of being lower than legacy aircraft were projected to be much higher, double the procurement cost even over their lifetime.

    The MC was under pressure to reduce its B operating cost estimate, so it did so. Based on past Harrier ops data, the MC dropped the estimated B STOVL usage from eighty percent to ten percent and voila, because the B's excessive fuel usage in STOVL mode would now be much less, the B operating cost dropped seventeen percent! Good work.

    The MC still says it needs 340 F-35B even though projected STOVL is a small fraction of what it was. THAT didn't change. Isn't that remarkable?

  5. What i liked about this article is that it is first article that shows hard numbers and how they compare.

    The costs of ships is far less than the cost of aircraft. That, for a fraction of the cost of the UH-1s to take just one example, we could build a 1000 MPCs. A vehicle that will be used to to fullest capabilities. The F-35B will probably never be used to it's fullest capabilities.

    The basic question is; does what the ACE bring to the MAGTF justify the cost?

    1. They are soft, not hard, numbers. See my comment above.

  6. LOL, UK's paying $4.1 billion for 14 F-35Bs.

  7. On the general subject of procurement, Admiral Greenert has pointed out that the Littoral Combat Ship is not useful for the MC -- it can't land a helo on it for one thing. The Navy plans to buy 52 LCS at hundreds of millions each. So no littoral combat for the Marines! Fugedaboutit. /s

    1. You can land a helo on it, but not a MV-22 - both versions are designed for -60s, and Fire Scout class UAVs.

    2. I didn't make it up, but I failed to copy it and now I've searched but I can't find the CNO comments. So your comment rules.

  8. The F-35 will only be $161 per copy,...okay, sure, and this is !-------------------------------!, is six inches. So we are paying $116 and $133 million per copy for flying buses, but we had a problem paying $30 million for a fighting/swimming bus, whose existence defines our brand? I love our Corps, but i am glad that I am no longer active, i would be NJP'd on a regular basis. This current officer corps top to bottom needs to go.


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