Friday, December 30, 2011

Harper's boondoggles

F-35 production a troubling example of Pentagon spending, Walter Pincus, Washington Post, Dec. 26, 2011:
"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took the Senate floor on Dec. 15 and described the F-35 fighter program as “a mess.”

"What upset the senator was not just that the cost of each plane had risen nearly 100 percent from its original estimate of $69 million to $133 million today, or the fact that testing was only 20 percent complete while more than 90 planes had already been bought, or the fact that software — key to 80 percent of the stealth plane’s warfighting capability — wouldn’t be ready for another four years.

"It was, he said, that the Pentagon had “sold this program as a fifth-generation strike fighter that would — more so than any other major defense procurement program — be cost-effectively developed, procured, operated and supported.

"...At the beginning of the program, there were to be 3,000 F-35s built, since it would replace the fighter-bombers in each of the three services and also be sold to foreign allies.

"...In his new book, “The Wounded Giant,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon calls for cutting the overall purchase to 1,250, canceling the more costly Navy version, reducing the Marine Corps F-35Bs by 10 percent or more, and limiting the Air Force to 800 F-35As. The difference would be made up by buying more F-16s and recognizing the role of unmanned aircraft."
F-35s will be on time, on budget, MacKay told, Daniel Leblanc, Globe and Mail, December 8, 2011
"Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Industry Minister Tony Clement shot down reports in the United States that the Joint Strike Fighter program has been hit by technological and financial problems. In addition, Canada’s Auditor-General has said there is potential for delays and overruns in such a developmental project, which will cost Canada about $16-billion over 20 years.

"But Mr. MacKay said he is convinced that the program is on budget after holding discussions with U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and senior Lockheed-Martin officials...

"He said orders are pouring in, which will keep costs down for the Canadian government, which is already in the queue..."
Fighter jet purchase risky, Auditor-General says, Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, Oct. 26, 2010
"Spending watchdog Sheila Fraser warns that the Harper government’s estimated $16-billion plan to buy new fighter jets carries significant risk of delays or cost increases – problems her latest audit finds also plagued Defence Department helicopter purchases.

“The F-35s ... I would hope that no one is assessing that as low risk,” the Auditor-General said of Canada’s controversial fighter jet project as she answered questions on a fall report that sharply criticized Defence’s procurement behaviour."
MacKay not grounded on F-35, Scott Taylor, Esprit de Corps, December 2011
"On Dec. 8, Defence Minister Peter MacKay took a brief junket to Texas where he put on a hard hat and did a little factory tour of the Lockheed Martin aircraft assembly plant.

"Following that dog-and-pony show and some brief discussions with American industry officials, MacKay held a teleconference with Canadian journalists. Along with his counterpart, Industry Minister Tony Clement, MacKay told his selected reporters that the Conservative government is convinced the planned acquisition of 65 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will be both on time and on budget.

"Such a ridiculous claim would be laughable were it not for the fact that, with an initial price tag of $9 billion and another estimated $7 billion in lifetime maintenance costs, the JSF project will be the most expensive military purchase in our nation’s history.

"...Ironically, it was only the previous day that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts had met to examine the disturbing findings of the fall 2010 report from the auditor general pertaining to the military’s ongoing acquisition of Cyclone and Chinook helicopters. In addition to noting that the Department of National Defence did not follow its “own rules governing the management and oversight of acquisition projects,” the key finding in Sheila Fraser’s report was that DND “underestimated and understated the complexity and developmental nature” of the helicopters it intended to buy.

“Consequently, project risks were incorrectly assessed. Significant modifications were made to the basic models, which contributed to considerable project delays and cost increases,” said the Office of the Auditor General’s press release summarizing the report.

"...Yet these revelations did not really seem to concern those responsible for the collective boondoggle who were called upon to answer to the parliamentary committee last week.

"... MacKay can assure us that the JSF, a developmental aircraft that is experiencing all sorts of technical teething troubles—one which we will not officially contract to purchase until 2013 at the earliest, which we will not take delivery of until 2016, and which we plan to fly until 2050, will absolutely be on time and on budget.

"That’s unbelievable!"
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  1. Typical - the F-35 is the wrong jet for the wrong job, but then, when Canada is a client state of the USA, we must purchase their armaments, whether good or bad.

    With the main role for the F-35 being guarding Canada's Arctic region, a single engine fighter is definitely the wrong choice. Canada needs a robust twin engine jet fighter/bomber, not a maintenance prone single engine version.


    In November 2011, a Pentagon study team found many areas of concern that remained to be addressed in the F-35 including:

    1) The Helmet mounted display system does not work properly.

    2)The fuel dump subsystem poses a fire hazard.
    The Integrated Power Package is unreliable and difficult to service.

    3) There are classified "survivability issues", which have been speculated to be about stealth.

    4) The wing buffet is worse than previously reported.

    5) The airframe is unlikely to last through the required lifespan.

    5) The flight test program has yet to explore the most challenging areas.

    6) The software development is behind schedule.

    7) The aircraft is in danger of going overweight or, for the F-35B, too nose-heavy for VTOL operations.

    8)There are multiple thermal management problems. The air conditioner fails to keep the pilot and controls cool enough, the roll posts on the F-35B overheat, and using the afterburner damages the aircraft.

    9) The automated logistics system does not work properly.

    10) The lightning protection on the F-35 Lightning II is uncertified, with areas of concern.

    11) Combat radious 1000 km., without airborn refeulling.

    Trust Harper and his retinue of "Chocolate soldiers" to want an untried, exotic fighter aircraft, that will do little, except further impoverish the Canadian taxpayer.

  2. The whole concept of "stealth" seems illusive.
    Google other "stealth" projects such as F22, B2 & F117 Nighthawk to see the results.
    Not reasuring.



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