After Shocking Failures, F-35 Could be Long Gone by New Defense Chief

While the delays, malfunctions and costs of the F-35 fighter jet pile higher and higher, the main contractors for the notoriously over-budget and overdue program threw record amounts of money towards politicians in 2014.

The world’s most advanced and expensive multi-role fighter program could come short of the US Department of Defense (DOD) and Pentagon hopes, as years of weak development saw cost overruns and perpetual delays.

 

Problems with design and computer systems made the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program even more frustrating; for thirteen years Pentagon has defended its position on the F-35, but it looks like now could be the right time to shift priorities.

Let’s look the truth in the eye:  the overall cost of developing and purchasing the jets amounts to $400 billion while operating and maintenance costs are skyrocketing upwards of $1.5 trillion. And why have we not seen any positive outcomes yet?

The Lockheed-Martin F-35 was billed as the US Department of Defense’s “focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies.”

Moreover,the most expensive weapon in history lost to a 1970s-designed F-16 during a mock aerial dogfight last January.

The Pentagon claimed that they would need exactly 2,443 combat F-35s, plus 14 development aircraft, to restrain and battle with potential military rivals like China. The question asks itself: the US, country with alternate number enemies from without, which sees threats lurking in almost from every corner, shouldn’t it reconsider the role F-35 plays in its defense?

Marine Corps commandant General Joseph F. Dunford, the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff nominee, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the F-35 development and purchasing plan is under review.

“Until the analysis is complete, we need to pursue the current scheduled quantity (2,443 aircraft) buy to preclude creating an overall near-term tactical fighter shortfall,” said Dunford.

“The jet fighter lacks the sensors, weapons and speed that allow a warplane to reliably detect and shoot down other planes in combat. At least not compared to modern Chinese- and Russian-made jets - the planes the F-35 is most likely to face in battle in some future war,” said War is Boring report.

Recently the Australian military canceled plans to purchase the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter landing aircraft.

The United Kingdom’s former defense chief, Nick Harvey, criticized the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, saying “You could argue it was already one of the biggest white elephants in history a long time ago.”

US military and intelligence officials expressed concern over Russia’s PAK-FA fighter jet noting “It has greater agility with its combination of thrust vectoring, all moving tail surfaces, and excellent aerodynamic design, than does the F-35.”

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Pentagon Refuses to Reveal Info on $40B Faulty Missile Defense System

Polish and US soldiers look at a missile defense battery during joint exercises.

The Department of Defense is looking to keep secret records of bonuses and incentives it paid contractors for delivering a $40 billion counter-ballistic missile system whose performance has been called “spotty at best.”

In January, the Los Angeles Times asked a federal judge to order the Pentagon to release the information on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.

 

The Pentagon responded on Friday by claiming the records are exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, and asked the judge to dismiss the case.

In court documents obtained by Courthouse News, the Pentagon called the Times’ request “defective,” and said the newspaper had not “exhausted their administrative remedies.”

“Defendant denies that plaintiff has withheld any ‘records’ sought by the FOIA request,” the April 17 response states. “Further, defendant avers that by letter of March 31, 2015, defendants provided a response, which more than fully satisfied defendant’s obligations to respond to the defective FOIA request at issue.”

While the government may believe it is being asked to disclose sensitive trade secrets, the exemption it cited does not apply to information created by a government agency, according to one legal expert.

 

Peter Scheer, an attorney and journalist who is a director of the First Amendment Coalition, said the Pentagon cited an exemption that applies to information created by a “private third party.”

“It strikes me that the government’s position here is very weak,” Scheer said in an interview with Courthouse News.

The suit by the Times argues that the GMD’s performance does not justify the $40 billion taxpayers paid to develop it.

“The GMD system is designed to protect Americans against threats from rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran,” the suit states. “Although American taxpayers have spent $40 billion during the past decade to develop the GMD system, the missile shield’s performance is spotty at best, even in carefully choreographed tests that are more predictable and less challenging than an actual attack would be.”

 

Aviation giant Boeing, defense contractor Raytheon, security company Northrop Grumman, and space technology company Orbital Sciences delivered the system to the government, according to the Times.

The Times asked for financial records from December 31, 2001 to March 1, 2014 under the Freedom of Information Act.

The public has a right to know how much was paid in bonuses and incentives because of the “staggering sums spent” on the system, the newspaper says.

In its coverage of the defense system, the Times reported that the system failed eight of 17 interception tests. Of four interception tests between January 2010 and June 2014, the system failed three.

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Head of Pentagon confirms US developing new long range strategic bomber

January 14,
Pentagon officials want to start replacing the existing models with a new long-range stealth plane by the mid-2020’s

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber

© EPA PHOTO/US AIR FORCE

WASHINGTON, January 14. /TASS/. The US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says the US needs to create a new generation strategic bomber to increase the country’s deterrence potential. Hagel flew to Whiteman Air Force Base where 20 B-2 bombers are deployed. The B-2 bomber is considered the only long-range nuclear-capable bomber using stealth technology. The US Air Force long-range bomber fleet also incudes B-52 and B-1 bombers.

Pentagon officials want to start replacing the existing models with a new long-range stealth plane by the mid 2020’s. The B-2 domber will be deployed by the mid-2040’s. Such companies as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are currently working to develop the new bomber.

‘Software disaster’: Pentagon never even planned F-35’s gun to shoot until 2019

 

January 04, 2015 

Reuters/Locheed Martin/Darin Russel

Reuters/Locheed Martin/Darin Russel

The problem with the gun system of the Pentagon’s most advanced F-35 jet, which won’t be able to shoot until at least 2019, is just a part of the disaster of ridiculously over-complex software, an aircraft designer Pierre Sprey told RT.

READ MORE: Missing software prevents US’ most advanced F-35 fighter jet from firing until 2019

RT: The F-35 fighter jet has been strongly criticized. Is that warranted do you think?

Pierre Sprey: The F-35 is in serious trouble, the latest is over the gun system. It is being reported that is due to a computer glitch – that is a severe understatement.

What it is really due to is two things: one, the disaster of ridiculously over-complex computer software system; and two, the fact that the gun itself is mainly for the purpose of close support and close in the air combat and the air force does not think that either of those are important.

In fact they think that close support is so unimportant that they are willing to cancel their present A-10 airplane. They’d like to wipe it out immediately, as soon as possible. And it is the best close air-support plane in the world. And they’ll promise that “well, later, sometime later the F-35 will replace it, we don’t know quite exactly when.”

But the problem with the gun is real. And it is very much a part of the overall problem of the software disaster. The software is so complicated that the air force has planned it in five different blocks. And right now, they are simply flying the first block. And still having trouble with that one.

They are struggling to get the second block to work by the end of this for a kind of phony demonstration of the first operational squadron for the Marines. They may well not even be able to get the second block working.

The third block is supposed to come in 2016 for another phony demonstration of the first squadron of the Air Force.

And then the fourth block, which the first block that even provides for the gun, that even allows you to shoot the gun, is not due until 2019. And we won’t know whether that block of software is working till the end of that year.

So for now, for the next four years, we have no possibility of shooting the gun, and it is the single most important weapon for close support and for close in-air combat. Needless to say the airplane is incapable of doing either one of them at all without the gun. And even after the gun works, if it does, which we don’t know, the airplane will be hopelessly incapable of close support and probably worse at close-in dogfight than the 1960s MIG-21.

RT: There are three versions of the plane – do all of them have this computer glitch?

PS: Well, all of them have it. The only reason you are not hearing about the Navy problem with the software, is the Navy does not even have the gun. Two versions – the Air Force F-35A and the F-35B for the Marines have a gun – very important to both if they could do those missions.

But it is not that it is a glitch that has suddenly arrived and said, “Oh, we were going to have a gun, we won’t have one till 2019” – they never even planned to have software to have the gun work until 2019.

AFP Photo/US Navy

AFP Photo/US Navy

And they are so far behind schedule, it is amazing. Since the beginning of the software engineering every year they’ve been losing six months of schedule. So they are supposed to advance a year – every year they lose six more months.

So when they promise 2019 for the fourth version of this software that might be able to shoot the gun, it is very likely that it will be another year or two later than that. This is a promise simply based on the current schedule which they’ve never held.

RT: Are the guns really that important? Is this a major drawback?

PS: The guns are absolutely essential for two reasons. In close support it is the single most important weapon because when your troops are in the most trouble, when they are about to be overrun by enemies that are 40, 30, 20 or even 10 meters away – there is no other weapon that works. If you tried to drop laser guided bomb in that situation you are as likely to kill your friends as the enemies.

Only the gun can be brought in that close to friendly troops to get them out of trouble. So in the deepest emergencies, the gun is the most important thing. But the air force has no interest in supporting troops. It has no interest in close support. So that is why they have scheduled the software that couldn’t even possibly shoot the gun so late in the program – because they are struggling with other enormous problems and they don’t care for close support.

Whether this airplane does it or not –does not matter. They’ll just promise it will do it and let’s cancel the A-10 that does it today superbly. Let’s cancel that right away and we’ll wait for a while, maybe the F 35 will work and maybe it won’t.

Image from dtic.mil

Image from dtic.mil

RT: What impact will it have on the F-35 program? Now when it is known the jet will not be fully operational until at least 2019 – is there a chance that the Pentagon will abandon it altogether?

PS: Not unless there are some enormous embarrassment. So far they are spending as much effort on public relations to try to smooth the overall problems they’ve been having in actually engineering and designing the airplane. So unless there is some terrific series of crashes, I think, for the meanwhile, there is no chance that they will cancel the program.

I do predict that they will have that much trouble within the next few years, and that we will never see them build more than 500 of these airplanes. That the airplane will become technically such an embarrassment that they’ll pretend they did not really need it anyhow, and that “it’s alright we have a better idea, we are working on a new airplane and forget about the F-35.”

That is exactly what they did with the F-111, which was equally a huge technical embarrassment and all the sudden the airplane wasn’t that necessary and instead of building 1,500 we only built 500. I think that is the scenario you will see for the F-35. Out of embarrassment in the next five years, they’ll simply walk away from it.

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Another US Missile Defense Radar Deployed in Japan: Pentagon

AN-TPY-2 Radar

The second radar deployed to Japan is aimed “to enhance sensor coverage” for ballistic missile defense of Japan and the United States, and to “augment the existing radar” located at Shariki in northern Japan.

 

WASHINGTON, December 26 (Sputnik) — A second US missile defense radar has been deployed in Japan’s central Kyoto prefecture, the Pentagon said Friday in its press release.”The US Department of Defense and Japanese Ministry of Defense announced today the deployment of a second Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) radar in Japan to Kyogamisaki,” the press release read.

 

The second radar deployed in Japan is aimed “to enhance sensor coverage” for ballistic missile defense of Japan and the United States, and to “augment the existing radar” located at Shariki in northern Japan, according to the release.”The AN/TPY-2 radar is a transportable system that performs as a highly-capable sensor for both homeland and regional missile defense,” the release said indicating that the new radar deployed to central Japan would be used exclusively by US Pacific Command and US Northern Command.

 

In 2006, the United States deployed its first radar of this kind to Japan’s northern Aomori Prefecture. Similar US forward-based radars are located in Turkey and the Middle East.Russia has been criticizing the deployment of US missile defense systems around the world, saying they undermined the global and regional security environment, especially military and nonproliferation processes.

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US Provides Only Non-Lethal Aid to Ukraine: Defense Department

The Unites States provides exclusively non-lethal assistance to Ukraine.

According to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, US provides Ukraine only non-lethal military aid, though US State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke on Friday announced that lethal assistance “remains an option”.

WASHINGTON, November 26 (Sputnik) – The Unites States provides exclusively non-lethal assistance to Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby has stressed.

© cyber-berkut.org
The Naval Command asks US to sponsor Ukrainian officers during military exercises headed by the Pentagon on the Ukraine territory

“Nothing has changed about the non-lethal assistance that we continue to flow to Ukrainian armed forces and security forces,” Kirby told reporters Monday.

When asked to confirm that the US Department of Defense has made no decision on providing lethal aid to Ukraine, Kirby replied that the United States “continue[s] to focus on non-lethal assistance to Ukraine”.

Last Friday, US Senator John McCain told Sputnik that the newly-elected US Congress will pass resolutions and apply pressure on US President Barack Obama to provide Ukraine with lethal military assistance.

Also on Friday, US State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke announced that lethal assistance to Ukraine “remains an option”.

Last Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that if the United States decides to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, it would be a direct violation of the Geneva Agreements.

During his September visit to the United States, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal military assistance from the Obama administration. The White House has so far refused to grant it.

In mid-April Kiev authorities launched a military operation against independence supporters in eastern Ukraine, who refused to recognize the new government which came to power as a result of a coup in February.

The offensive triggered a humanitarian crisis in the affected areas, prompting Russia to send in several humanitarian convoys to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Pentagon Delegation in Talks on Post-Sale Servicing of Russian Helicopters for Afghanistan

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Photo: Pentagon Delegation in Talks on Post-Sale Servicing of Russian Helicopters for Afghanistan

October 29 – A delegation from the Pentagon is presently in Moscow discussing the details of post-sale servicing of Russian helicopters for the Afghan military, a deputy director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said Wednesday.
"A US delegation is currently in Moscow holding negotiations. They expressed a strong desire to continue cooperation with Russia. The issues of post-sale servicing and the deliveries of spare parts for the Mi-17V5 helicopters for the Afghan military are being discussed," Anatoly Punchuk said on the sidelines of the Euronaval-2014 exposition in Paris.
Earlier in October, US Army Gen. John F. Campbell told reporters that Russian the Mi-17 helicopters had been a "game changer" in the movement of Afghan forces and supplies in the fight against Taliban insurgents.
Russia will complete its contract with the Pentagon at the end of October on the delivery of 63 Mi-17V5 tactical transport helicopters for the Afghan military. An official ceremony handing over the last four aircraft will be held on October 29 at the Kazan Helicopter Plant.
The United States sanctions, imposed on Russia for its alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis, did not affect the supply of Russian helicopters to Afghanistan. Apart from the helicopter deliveries Russia also ships spare parts for helicopters to the Afghan army and trains specialists on helicopters maintenance at a training center based at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant.
October 29 – A delegation from the Pentagon is presently in Moscow discussing the details of post-sale servicing of Russian helicopters for the Afghan military, a deputy director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said Wednesday.
“A US delegation is currently in Moscow holding negotiations. They expressed a strong desire to continue cooperation with Russia. The issues of post-sale servicing and the deliveries of spare parts for the Mi-17V5 helicopters for the Afghan military are being discussed,” Anatoly Punchuk said on the sidelines of the Euronaval-2014 exposition in Paris.
Earlier in October, US Army Gen. John F. Campbell told reporters that Russian the Mi-17 helicopters had been a “game changer” in the movement of Afghan forces and supplies in the fight against Taliban insurgents.
Russia will complete its contract with the Pentagon at the end of October on the delivery of 63 Mi-17V5 tactical transport helicopters for the Afghan military. An official ceremony handing over the last four aircraft will be held on October 29 at the Kazan Helicopter Plant.
The United States sanctions, imposed on Russia for its alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis, did not affect the supply of Russian helicopters to Afghanistan. Apart from the helicopter deliveries Russia also ships spare parts for helicopters to the Afghan army and trains specialists on helicopters maintenance at a training center based at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant.