Col Harder, at Burlington city council, calls ballot item unnecessary and disingenuous

By Katie Jickling
January  30, 2018

The Burlington City Council on Monday agreed to allow voters to weigh in on the future basing of the F-35 fighter jets — but not before a lengthy discussion about ballot wording that, in the end, will remain the same.

The Town Meeting Day ballot question is advisory, and is not likely to prevent the planned 2019 arrival of the F-35s. The crux of the debate during Monday’s meeting centered not around the vote itself, but around language F-35 opponents used conveying “strong support” for the Vermont Air National Guard.

The original question, on a petition signed by 2,700 city residents, asked:

Shall we, the voters of the City of Burlington, as part of our strong support for the men and women of the Vermont National Guard, and especially their mission to ‘protect the citizens of Vermont,’ advise the City Council to:

1) request the cancellation of the planned basing of the F-35 at Burlington International Airport, and

2) request instead low-noise-level equipment with a proven high safety record appropriate for a densely populated area?

Three councilors — Jane Knodell (P-Central District), Dave Hartnett (D-North District) and Kurt Wright (R-Ward 4) — proposed an amendment to delete the phrase, “as part of our strong support for the men and women of the Vermont National Guard, and especially their mission to ‘protect the citizens of Vermont.'”

[FULL ARTICLE]

US Air Force orders freeze on public outreach

By Valerie Insinna , David B. Larter , and Aaron Mehta
March 12, 2018

The U.S. Air Force is slashing access to media embeds, base visits and interviews as it seeks to put the entire public affairs apparatus through retraining — a move it says is necessary for operational security, but one which could lead to a broader freeze in how the service interacts with the public.

According to March 1 guidance obtained by Defense News, public affairs officials and commanders down to the wing level must go through new training on how to avoid divulging sensitive information before being allowed to interact with the press.

The effort, which represents the third major Defense Department entity to push out guidance restricting public communication over the past 18 months, creates a massive information bureaucracy in which even the most benign human-interest stories must be cleared at the four-star command level.

Before settling on retraining its public affairs corps and commanders, the service considered an even more drastic step: shutting down all engagement with the press for a 120-day period, a source with knowledge of the discussions said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Unmanned flights are the future of the F-35?

By Alex Lockie
June 5, 2018

China released images of a new, unmanned, stealth-fighter-style jet, and they present a shocking look into how close Beijing has come to unseating the US as the dominant military air power.
An expert who examined the pictures said the drone, called the “Dark Sword,” could give China a big advantage in a fight with the US.
The Dark Sword looks like an unmanned stealth fighter jet that could overwhelm the US with quantity and supersonic speed.
The US thought about making a jet like this, but instead turned it into a tanker, and now it could be falling behind.
China released images of a new, unmanned, stealth fighter-style jet, and they present a shocking look into how close Beijing has come to unseating the US as the dominant military air power.

China has already built stealth fighter jets that give US military planners pause, but the images of its new unmanned plane, named the “Dark Sword,” suggest a whole new warfighting concept that could prove an absolute nightmare for the US.

Justin Bronk, an air-combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Dark Sword “represents a very different design philosophy” than US unmanned combat jet plans.

Bronk examined the photos available of the Dark Sword and concluded it appeared optimized for fast, supersonic flight as opposed to maximized stealth.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Air Force, state officials stand firm on F-35 basing

By Jasper Craven
June 4, 2018

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has told federal and local leaders that the Vermont Air National Guard has essentially one viable flying mission — the F-35 fighter jet.

Wilson told Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in an interview last month at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that it was “highly likely” Vermont would lose the Guard base if Burlington doesn’t host the F-35.

Shortly after, Wilson reiterated her position in a letter to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

“If that decision were to be reversed, the Vermont Air National Guard would likely lose their flying mission upon the retirement of the F-16s,” Wilson wrote to Weinberger. “The Air Force is much smaller than it was at the end of the Cold War.

[FULL ARTICLE]

VTANG pilots look forward to new F-35 fighter jets

This story is produced and presented by Pomerleau Real Estate

Following his dreams has taken Captain Clay Shaner to unimaginable heights.

Shaner, 36, already had a successful career in finance on Wall Street in 2008. But when he daydreamed at his desk at Morgan Stanley or drifted off to sleep at night, his imagination didn’t conjure blue-chip stocks and financial windfalls.

He dreamed, like so many of us, of flying.

“It’s something I’ve always been fascinated with, and wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve always been the guy in the window seat on the plane, watching the earthbound world fade away. There’s a sense of freedom to it.”

Now a member of the Vermont Air National Guard, Shaner’s dreams have taken him to the absolute height of military aviation, to a point where he has a clear view of its future. Shaner is on exchange assignment to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida’s panhandle, in a replacement training unit geared toward integrating the very latest in military aircraft technology — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — into the U.S. arsenal.

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MG Cray says “a vote of no” shows support for the Guard

By Elizabeth Gribkoff and Mike Dougherty
February 9, 2018

Vermont National Guard officials spoke out on Friday against a ballot measure that will allow Burlington voters to signal opposition to basing F-35 fighter jets at the Burlington International Airport.

Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, Vermont’s adjutant general, said at a press conference that the question “misleads the voter into thinking they are supporting the Air Guard.”

The ballot item, which asks voters if they want the City Council to request the cancellation of the planned basing, has been a point of contention.

[FULL ARTICLE]

MG Cray claims ballot item misleads the voters

February 12, 2018

The City of Burlington has added a citizens, non-binding question on the Town Meeting Day ballot regarding whether Burlington voters support, or not, the basing of the F-35 at the Air Guard base at the Burlington Internation Airport. There was much debate about the wording of the ballot question, which eventually was left intact from the original petition (link is external). On Friday afternoon Vermont National Guard Major General Steven Cray held a press conference at the base to discuss the F-35. His opening comments and video are below, as well as the ballot resolution.

Major General Steven Cray: “My condolences to the Pomerleau family. Mr. Pomerleau was a staunch supporter of the VT National Guard and was outspoken about his respect for the men and women in uniform. He is an honorary Green Mountain Boy and will be sorely missed in our communities.

[FULL ARTICLE]

BG Clark says their press conference was held because of upcoming vote on ballot measure

By Mike Dougherty
Mar 1 2018

Vermont Air National Guard officials on Wednesday explained how they are preparing for the arrival of 18 F-35 fighter jets at the base in South Burlington next year.

Training operations and construction projects for F-35 operations at the Guard base adjacent to Burlington International Airport have been underway since 2016, guard officials said. They expect the first of the new fleet planes to arrive within 18 months.

The press event came six days before Burlington voters will weigh in on the basing in a Town Meeting Day ballot measure. Opponents are campaigning for residents to vote “yes” on a question that asks whether the City Council should request the cancellation of the F-35 basing in favor of “low-noise-level equipment with a proven high safety record appropriate for a densely populated area.”

Air Guard officials have maintained that the F-35 decision, which the U.S. Air Force handed down in 2013, is beyond the point of no return.

[FULL ARTICLE]

BG Clark says a vote of ‘no’ supports the Vermont Air National Guard

By Todd Shepherd
March 3, 2018

Residents of Burlington, Vt., go to the polls on Tuesday to vote on a non-binding resolution which, if passed, would direct the city council to ask the Air National Guard to find somewhere else to house an F-35 fighter jet base.

The primary objection from opponents of the base is jet noise, although numerous other issues play a role as well, in a struggle that stretches at least as far back as 2013. The vote comes despite the fact the Vermont Air National Guard has already invested $83 million in preparation for the jets.

“It has been ongoing for 10 years, and we’ve taken it very seriously,” Lt. Col. Daniel Finnegan told Vermont Public Radio. “When the first F-35 lands here in 18 months we intend to be fully trained and equipped to receive it.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Vermont Air National Guard gives reporters a tour of base a week before Burlington vote stepping up their outreach efforts. BG Clark called ballot item “inaccurate”

By Liam Elder-Connors
March 1, 2018

A non-binding ballot item in Burlington this Town Meeting Day would advise the City Council to request that F-35 fighter jets not be based at Burlington International Airport — but the Vermont Air National Guard says they’re still getting ready for the arrival of the aircraft.

The fight over the basing of F-35s in Burlington has been going on for years.

Charles Simpson is an activist with Save Our Skies — the group that worked to get the item on the ballot. He’s also running for Burlington City Council.

Simpson said among the concerns is the noise from the new jets.

“The old plane was the F-16. We’re bringing in the F-35 — four times louder, much bigger noise impact zone, which is going to put in jeopardy 3,000 homes,” he said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Col Harder, Wing Vice Commander talks about voting on ballot item during Burlington Neighborhood Planning Assembly

February 28,2018

Col Harder, Wing Vice Commander talks about voting on ballot item during Burlington Neighborhood Planning Assembly in Wards 4/7.
Harder speaks 28 minutes into recording.

[FULL ARTICLE]

158th Fighter Wing Statement to the Burlington City Council by Wing Vice Commander, Col Hank Harder saying ballot item does not support Guard

January 29, 2018

A typewritten statement to the Burlington City Council by Wing Vice Commander, Col Hank Harder saying ballot item does not support Guard

[FULL ARTICLE]

158th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, Col Hank Harder’s public statement before the Burlington City Council

January 29, 2018

158th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, Col Hank Harder’s public statement before the Burlington City Council

[FULL ARTICLE]

BG Clarks says he hopes ballot item is rejected by voters

By Stewart Ledbetter
March 5, 2018

Burlington voters get their first chance Tuesday to weigh in directly on whether the Pentagon’s new F-35 fighter jets belong at the city-owned airport, an advisory question that continues to generate plenty of heat.

Question 6 was placed on the ballot by a citizen petition drive this winter. It asks whether Burlington city leaders should fornally request the U.S. Air Force cancel the F-35 basing and substitute a less noisy aircraft and mission at the Vermont Air Guard instead.

Save Our Skies, an opposition group, staged a rally Monday outside City Hall.

They quoted from Air Force documents and environmental studies show the F-35 will produce significantly more noise over Vermont’s most densely populated residential neighborhoods that surround the airport compared to the current F-16 jets that fly now.

And that, they argue, risks the health of at least 1,500 children in Winooski and South Burlington.

Dr. John Reuwer, a retiring emergency department physician, said jet noise is no small matter for children.

“(It) causes all sorts of harm to children, primarily — the strongest evidence is cardiovascular risk, that is hardening of the arteries that eventually kills more people than anything else,” Reuwer said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Senior Guard leaders invite the media to base saying they hope voters will vote “no” on ballot item

By Stewart Ledbetter
February 28, 2018

Days before an F-35 advisory question goes before Burlington voters, the Vermont Air National Guard opened its base to media Wednesday afternoon, showing off some of the work now underway to upgrade facilities and taxiways, and its enthusiasm for the new fighter jets.

Senior Guard leaders left no doubt that they hope residents vote no on Question 6 on Tuesday.

The referendum, prompted by a petition drive this winter, asks voters whether Burlington’s City Council should formally request the U.S. Air Force send a safer, less noisy aircraft to Vermont to replace the aging F-16 jets.

The city owns the airport which leases space to the Vermont Air Guard.

Opponents of the F-35 said they’re not giving up, and in at least three other states the Air Force agreed to substitute aircraft long after its initial basing decision.

For now, the Air Force plans to send 18 F-35 fighter-bombers to Burlington sometime in late September 2019.

Opponents point to Air Force studies and documents showing the F-35’s louder engine will aggravate thousands of residents living in neighborhoods near the Burlington International Airport.

Vermont Air Guard Col. Henry Harder told reporters he thinks the noise will be about the same as today’s F-16 jets.

[FULL ARTICLE]

In unprecedented press conference and behind the scenes tour for the press, VTANG officials say they want the public to know their side of the story

By Timothy McQuiston
March 2, 2018

If the skies seem a bit quieter around Burlington International Airport these days, it’s because the Vermont Air National Guard’s F-16s have been flying fewer sorties. And it will keep getting quieter for about the next 18 months, which will include, starting next March, about six months of no F-16 activity. But for the next few days, the political noise will get louder, and who knows when that might quiet down.

A Burlington ballot question on Tuesday requests the cancellation of the Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35. It’s an advisory vote only. The F-35s that will replace the F-16 at Burlington International Airport are expected to start to arrive in the fall of 2019. VTANG’s F-16 mission will conclude in March of that year.

While a “yes” vote will not cancel the mission, opponents have been steadfast in saying the new aircraft will make a noisy situation even louder.

Opponents also maintain that the new jets will be more dangerous.

[FULL ARTICLE]

VTANG says to show support for the Guard, vote “no” on ballot item

By Darren Perron
March 4, 2018

A progress report on the  f-35, plus controversy  surrounding a ballot question about the fighter jet.

Vermonters will get to see and hear an f-35 fighter jet some time this year.
The guard says it’s bringing at least one or two here for training purposes and to show
its members the plane that will arrive full-time in 18 months.
We’re told the media will also get a look at the plane, so we’ll see just how loud it is.
It’s not clear when that demo will happen yet, but some time in 2018.
Construction continues at the guard to get ready for the 18 fighter jets that will be based
at the Burlington airport, a decision that has sparked nearly a decade of debate.

[FULL ARTICLE]

In-depth coverage of VTANG involvement in the F-35 basing issue

By Jasper Craven
March 1, 2018

In December 2012, Vermont’s then-Gov. Peter Shumlin squeezed into a nine-seat charter jet for a trip to Florida.

Those on board — including Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and then-Winooski Mayor Michael O’Brien — were headed to Eglin Air Force Base. The mission: To hear the noise of the F-35 fighter jet firsthand, and report back to Vermonters.

The trip was paid for by the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp. (GBIC), a business group that has supported the basing of F-35 stealth fighter jets in the Burlington area. One of that group’s leaders, real estate magnate Ernie Pomerleau, also accompanied Shumlin on the trip.

Noticeably absent were officials from South Burlington, the city expected to shoulder the greatest burden when 18 of the jets are scheduled to arrive at Burlington International Airport next fall. They were not invited.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Adjutant General, MG Cray speaks to the Burlington City Council in uniform on 10-28-13 asking them to vote against the council resolution


October 28, 2013

Adjutant General, MG Cray speaks to the Burlington City Council in uniform asking them to vote against the council resolution during public forum. Starts at 16 minute point in video.

[FULL ARTICLE]

 

Adjutant General MG Steven Cray’s October 2013 letter to Burlington City Council

By Adjutant General MG Steven Cray
October 22, 2013

Dear Burlington City Councilors,

I am writing this letter to express my support for basing the F-35 at the Burlington International Airport. I have been involved with the basing process since the beginning and am confident the basing of the F-35 in Vermont is in our best interest as an organization, as a state, and as a community. The basing will provide continued levels of emergency capability for the governor, support national defense, secure current level of jobs, preserve economoic benefits, and secture the Vermont Air National Guard’s future for years to come.

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Lt Col Caputo speaks to the Burlington City Council in uniform on 10-28-13 urging the city councilors to “vote no” on a council resolution

October 28, 2013

Adjutant General, MG Cray speaks to the Burlington City Council in uniform asking them to vote against the council resolution during public forum. Starts at 46:12 minute point in video.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Citations on VTANG political engagement as cited in the administrative record of the F-35A basing process

Cray to Fick, Clark, Harris, Caputo, Baczewski, Goodrow, Irish, Kleptz (3-9-10) Subject: Media Messages for F35.  “All, Here’s some thought I have regarding the development of our community management strategy.  First I think it’s time to publish a letter to the editor in the BFP as an update on the “facts”.  It’s imperative that we get Sheryl in front of the SB council in April. An invite to the VTANG for meet and greet.  Timing TBD.”  #40684

Goodrow to Abbott (9-2-10) Subject:  Regarding Organizing Efforts for the F-35.  “There are many opportunities out there to promote the possibilities of the VTANG’s bedding down of the F-35 in the future.  That being said, there is great temptation for members of the VTANG to become engaged in a political process that is outside of our legal lanes.  As a military organization it is improper for us to utilize the email systems to push any sort of agendas as an effort to influence our public or the USAF toward any decision process.  That being said, efforts to institute or participate in any “We Support the F-35 Campaign” by way of petition or active participation in efforts toward those means would be improper.  Military Organization are prohibited from solicitation.

If individuals want to get the news out through their personal websites, facebook, email links, etc. they must do it as individuals and should not do it as a member of the Vermont Air Guard or imply that the Air Guard is driving this ship…because we CAN’T and Aren’t driving the ship.

It is totally appropriate for the Air Guard to support requests for information on the F-35 to organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, etc..but we should not be building their agenda for them.  I do believe that it is now appropriate for the VTANG to engage with the Rotary, etc in order to update them on the EIS process, etc, and update on VTANG activities.  This should NOT be an opportunity to tell folks to organize on our behalf but it purely an effort to keep the public informed on the EIS process.  Engaging with the public in this respect is not only appropriate but expected under the EIS process.  If the Chamber wants to bounce ideas off of us…we need to remember that their efforts on our behalf are THEIR efforts and we are only responding to legitimate, appropriate requests for information that could very well be used to support THEIR efforts toward supporting the F-35 in Burlington.  Offers of F-16 flights or positions of honor for organization offering support would NOT be appropriate.

We have been telling the public from day one that this is a United States Air Force Process that we did NOT solicit…although we are grateful for the  acknowledgement the USAF has given us in their selection of the 158FW as a prime location for the F-35.  If we appear to be actively soliciting and behind the scenes activists toward these means, we could impact our credibility with those who we already are on shaky grounds with.”  #44143. NOTE:  PARTS OF THIS EMAIL ARE MISSING AND ARE LABELED “PRIVILEGED”

[FULL ARTICLE]

How War Industry Corrupts Congress (and everyone else)

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies
June 8, 2018

Former President Jimmy Carter has called U.S. politics a system of “legalized bribery” in which powerful interests spend billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign funding to ensure that members of Congress pay more attention to them than to the general public. With the upcoming midterm elections, we will see the full force of this tsunami of cash washing over our electoral system.

The human cost of this corrupt system has been searingly rammed home since the Parkland school shooting, as grieving high school students determined to curb America’s gun violence have found themselves in a pitched battle with the “gun lobby,” led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the most entrenched and powerful interest groups in the country.

The gun lobby has already spent over $12 million on lobbying and given at least $1.1 million to members of Congress in this election cycle, 98% of it to Republicans. The gun lobby also wields power over Democrats through lobbying and public relations, and the threat of targeting individual Democrats who take a public stand for gun control.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Strong Community Bond Gives VTANG The Strength to Soar

May 2018

Brigadier General David Baczewski (Ret.) recalls how he and his family found the place they call home today

This story is produced and presented by Pomerleau Real Estate [Appeared as an ‘ad’ in this Burlington Free Press article]

David Baczewski has spent most of his life wrapped in what he calls a “blue blanket.”

The 52-year-old Westford resident was born on an Air Force base. He grew up and earned his own appointment to the Air Force Academy, where he met the woman he would marry. Fourteen years of active duty followed, as a pilot and training instructor.

Throughout his Air Force experience, Brigadier General David Baczewski (Ret.) and his family enjoyed the security and support that comes with service in the armed forces. Then he moved to vermont, where he and his family found themselves wrapped in a blanked thicker than they ever imagined.

“It’s almost hard for me to put into words, but I felt more connected to the community here than I have ever really felt, even in the Air Force,” said Baczewski, who went on to spend 12 years in the Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) and rise to the position of Commander for the 158th Fighter Wing.

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BFP-Ad-Pomerleau-VTANG-5-31-18

Despite Opponents’ Efforts, F-35s Still Scheduled for Burlington

By Katie Jickling
May 24, 2018

Citizen efforts to halt the arrival of the F-35 fighter jets appear to have come up short.

Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Heather Wilson confirmed this week that the planes are still on schedule to arrive at Burlington International Airport next year.

The letter dated May 22 from Wilson to Mayor Miro Weinberger came in response to a city council resolution that requested the Air Force find a new mission for the Vermont Air National Guard. The resolution also included a series of questions about the safety and noise of the planes.

The Air Force’s response? The basing is a done deal.

“This decision was finalized in 2013 after a 48-month review which assessed 205 locations and concluded that the Burlington International Airport was the best Air National Guard option,” Wilson wrote in a letter to Weinberger. “If that decision were to be reversed, the Vermont Air National Guard would likely lose their flying mission upon the retirement of the F-16s.”

With a decreased need for Air Force bases and aircraft since the Cold War, the letter continued, “competition to secure new missions is fierce.” Wilson estimated that the Air Force would make $100 million in capital expenditures in Vermont during the next five years, and would spend $50 million on salaries annually.

Gov. Phil Scott, along with Vermont’s three-member congressional delegation, support the F-35 basing in Burlington.

Citizen opponents have been fighting the jets for five years. They have filed a lawsuit against the Air Force — which was dismissed — held protests, and, most recently, gathered signatures to get the measure on the Town Meeting Day ballot.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Sen. Lindsey Graham pitches Trump on F-35s during visit to South Carolina’s McEntire Air Guard Base

By Jamie Lovegrove
Oct 27, 2017

In what seems to be an increasingly common occurrence for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Seneca Republican was in a meeting Friday when President Donald Trump called. This time, the chat focused on airplanes.

While meeting with U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale, and Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Graham used the president’s call to loop him into the conversation and pitch him on the benefits of F-35 stealth fighter jets.

Known for his hawkish stance on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Graham said he told Trump that he doesn’t want any U.S. military engagement to be a fair fight.

[FULL ARTICLE]

WCAX broadcast on VTANG interference in basing process

By Darren Perron
May 20, 2018

Opponents of the F 35 Jet call for an investigation on the Vermont National Guard.
They’re alleging unethical and possible illegal conduct that resulted in Vermont landing the controversial plane.
A one on one interview with the woman making the allegations, plus we’re going to get the guard’s response. Major James Lewandowski is here, he will discuss the guard’s Charlie company, which will act as a medical evacuation unit.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Air Force head says F-35 loss could ground Vermont Guard

By Mike Dougherty
May 17 2018

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Thursday that the Vermont Air National Guard would likely be grounded if F-35s are not based at the Burlington Air Guard Station.

During questioning by Sen. Patrick Leahy at a U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, the Air Force head told lawmakers, “If the F-35s don’t go to Vermont, the F-16s will eventually age out, and it’s highly likely that Vermont will no longer have a flying mission for its Guard.”

Opponents to the F-35 basing have raised concerns over the environmental effects of stationing the fleet of fighter jets in Vermont’s most populous city.

In public statements and court filings, opposition groups, including Save Our Skies VT, have suggested that the Air Force could assign alternative aircraft to the Guard. VTANG officials have contended that there is no other mission being planned for the Green Mountain Boys.

Wilson’s comment Thursday appears to be the first public statement clarifying the position of the Air Force.

While opponents have proposed that cargo planes like the C-130 would be viable alternatives for the Vermont Air Guard, the secretary’s statement indicates that fighter planes are the squadron’s only aircraft option.

Her statement largely reflects prior wording about the continued use of the squadron’s current F-16 fleet. The Air Force’s 2013 Environmental Impact Statement stated, “If there is no F-35 beddown at Burlington Air Guard Station, the current mission would continue.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

US Air Force: No F-35s would likely ground Vt. Air Guard

By Darren Perron
May 17, 2018

If the F-35 fighter jet doesn’t land here, the Vermont Air Guard would likely be grounded. That’s according to the U.S. Air Force.

U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson testified Thursday in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee about the 2019 budget.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, took the opportunity to ask the secretary if another mission is possible for the Vermont Air Guard without the F-35.

“If the F-35s don’t go to Vermont, the F-16s will eventually age out, and it’s highly likely that Vermont will no longer have a flying mission for its Guard,” Wilson said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Former Air Force leaders demand probe of ‘unethical’ conduct by Air Guard officials in F-35 basing

By Jasper Craven
May 6 2018

Two retired Air Force officials have called on federal watchdogs to investigate the Vermont Air National Guard over what they allege is unethical and, perhaps, illegal conduct.

Air Force Col. Rosanne Greco, the leader of an activist group that opposes the F-35 fighter jet, and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Bourassa, submitted letters to the inspectors general of the Air Force, Department of Defense and Air National Guard demanding investigations into “unprofessional, inappropriate, and possibly illegal conduct of some senior military officers of the Vermont Air National Guard” that appear “to violate military ethics and regulations.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Airport expansion into neighborhood

By Taylor Young
May 1, 2018

The Queen City is one step closer to building a hotel at the Burlington International Airport.

Monday night city officials approved the BTV Hotel ground lease. Alpha Inn Management is partnering with DEW Properties on the project. In the agreement, the two businesses will lease the property to the city of Burlington for up to two years and give the city a $100,000 deposit.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Democrats and Progressives Push US War Machine in Vermont – World Beyond War

By William Boardman
February 1, 2018

Donald Trump loves the F-35 and so does Burlington City Council – that is the real state of the union

his is a story primarily about corrupt practices by the Burlington City Council, in its headlong determination to force a neighboring city to be the base for a weapon of mass destruction, the nuclear capable F-35 fighter-bomber (in development since 1992, first flown in 2000, still not reliably deployable in 2018, at a cost of $400 billion and counting). Yes, the premise itself is corrupt: Burlington owns the airport in South Burlington, so South Burlington has no effective say in how many housing units Burlington destroys in South Burlington to meet environmental standards for imposing the quiet-shattering F-35 jet on a community that doesn’t want it and won’t benefit from it. The entire “leadership” of the state of Vermont, mostly Democrats, has spent more than a decade making this atrocity happen, with widespread media complicity. And you wonder how we got Trump as President.

Opposition to basing the F-35 in a residential neighborhood is at least as old as the mindless official support, and the opposition has been much more articulate, thoughtful, and detailed. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat and Burlington native, has been enthusiastic about militarizing his hometown from the start, treating it as if it should be seen as an honorable piece of pork from the military-industrial complex. Independent senator Bernie Sanders, like Democratic congressman Peter Welch, has hedged slightly in his support, but neither has come close to a cogently articulated position, much less opposition. Governors of both parties have been cheerleaders, especially Peter Shumlin, who took a junket to Florida to listen to an F-35 and decided it wasn’t all that loud (which was shortly before he decided universal healthcare wasn’t all that necessary).

[FULL ARTICLE]

Open letter to Miro about F-35 by UVM sophomore Lena Connolly

By Lena Connolly
April 20, 2018

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Lena Connolly, a sophomore at the University of Vermont and a lifelong Burlington resident.

My name is Lena Connolly. I am a sophomore at the University of Vermont, and I have lived in Burlington for my entire life. Surrounded by a loving and compassionate community, unbeatable natural beauty, and numerous activities both in the city and the outdoors, I am sure you know that Burlington is a phenomenal place to live.

However, like any place, Burlington is not perfect.

My family’s house lies under the flight path of the F-16 fighter jets, based in Burlington since 1986. I remember one day very distinctly, when I was five years old: My sister and I were playing in the backyard of my family’s home on a cloudless day in spring. The usual sounds of a Saturday morning echoed through the neighborhood: The warm breeze blowing through the trees, dogs barking, neighbors conversing, children laughing, and just like every other Saturday morning, the locally stationed F-16 fighter jets taking off for their training drills directly above my house. The noises of the neighborhood were drowned out by the overbearing roar of the planes. The dogs barked louder, the houses shook, neighbors ceased conversation, my sister and I ran inside, covering our ears and crying.

This is just one example from a lifetime of living in the shadow of the F-16s. They have affected my summer job at the Intervale Community Farm, where the noise from the jets terminates countless conversations between my co-workers and I. They have affected the many times I have sought peaceful refuge in Centennial Woods, where the noise of the F-16s pierces the stillness of the forest, disrupting countless animals and ecosystems. They have affected my father, who is highly sensitive to loud noises and whose stress levels rise every time the F-16s fly overhead. They have affected my mother, who supports my family by teaching music lessons to children at our home; the F-16s force her to interrupt these lessons.

Now, it is 2018, I am 20 years old, and the F-16s have the same looming presence in Burlington that they have had my entire life. It baffles me that the city is currently trying to bring to our town F-35 fighter jets that are four times louder, have a higher safety risk, will affect cognitive development in children and the mental and physical health of those within the noise zone, and make thousands of homes uninhabitable, forcing eviction for countless locals.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Corrupt Democrats Trash Constituents Over F-35 Basing in Vermont

By William Boardman
April 19, 2018

Author’s Note: Since the Burlington mayor’s non-veto veto of his city council’s anti-F-35 resolution, two other affected towns have acted. On April 16, the city council in Winooski, which sits in the airport’s flight path, voted unanimously for a resolution opposing the F-35. Also on April 16, the city council in South Burlington voted 3-1 for an anti-F-35 resolution. No Vermont town is on record supporting the warplane.

Burlington mayor betrays majority of constituents for what?
And why?

On April 11, the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, announced that he was betraying a 55% majority of Burlington voters and a 75% majority of his city council that had opposed basing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at the Burlington Airport in South Burlington. The mayor betrayed his constituents in the limpest way, not by vetoing the popular resolution opposing the F-35, but by sending it on without his signature, while appending a dishonest and misleading cover letter inviting unelected leaders to have their way with Vermont. The third-term Democratic mayor has now asked the Air Force to impose its deafening fighter-bomber on a neighboring city for no cogently articulated reason, following a process bereft of integrity, rigor, or honor.

Earlier this year, when Miro Weinberger was in a challenging, three-way race for re-election as mayor of Burlington, he seemed to make promises. He said things that sounded like promises, things that voters reasonably understood to be promises. One of those promises was a deceptively worded non-commitment commitment to reconsider the justice of basing the nuclear-capable F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the neighboring city of South Burlington, even though South Burlington has no say in the matter.

Weinberger was slip-sliding his way along the F-35 question because he has a long, unambiguous record of supporting the military escalation of the airport in the most populated region of Vermont, and this year voters had finally put the question on the ballot, against serious opposition from officialdom. Weinberger, a former airport commissioner, apparently needed to sidestep a question on which he had never shown any official doubt despite health, safety, military, economic and other evidence that the world’s most expensive weapons system was going to do more harm than good to Vermont.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Vermont Congressional Delegation Opposes Vermont Voters

By William Boardman
March 29, 2018

What happens when the lives of citizens get in the way of political egos?

he politics of American imperialism are alive and well in Vermont, where elected officials are defending the military-industrial war-making machine against voters who reject ruling class priorities. At the symbolic center of this democratic confrontation is the notorious F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the world’s most expensive weapons system, designed to kill in many ways, including a nuclear first strike. And the few times Vermonters have had the chance to vote, they’ve voted against basing this loud, health-harming, housing-destroying offensive war machine in the state’s most densely populated area. Now it’s coming to a head in a people versus career politicians face-off.

At a Town Meeting on March 6, Burlington voters chose, by a 55% majority, to ask the Air Force to base the F-35 in some other state. On March 26, the Burlington City Council, by a 9-3 vote, forwarded that request to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson to “replace the planned basing of the F-35 with a basing of a low-noise-level plane with a proven high safety record….” For whatever reason, the council request left out the rest of the ballot resolution’s request: “… proven high safety record appropriate for a densely populated area” (perhaps because that densely populated area is NOT Burlington). The City Council asked Secretary Wilson to respond by May 1.

Vermont’s quisling Congressional delegation – Democratic senator Patrick Leahy, Independent senator Bernie Sanders, and Democratic congressman Peter Welch – made what looks like a cheap shot effort to influence the council vote at the last minute. Late on the afternoon of March 26, Vermont’s “representatives” issued a joint statement saying they stood by their years of pushing for the F-35 basing at the Burlington Airport, which is in South Burlington (which has no voice in the decision).

[FULL ARTICLE]

Lawmakers to military: don’t buy another money pit like the F-35

By Matthew Cox
March 7, 2018

Lawmakers on Wednesday put senior military officials on the spot to explain how current acquisition reform efforts will prevent costly programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from becoming “too big to fail.”

Members of the House Armed Services Committee met with acquisition chiefs from the Army, Navy and Air Force to assess how the services are using new congressional authorities to streamline the bureaucratic policies and procedures that often prevent combat systems from being fielded efficiently.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Leahy and staff had role in F-35 basing decision

By Jasper Craven
Mar 5 2018

In December 2012, more than 100 Vermonters gathered outside U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Burlington office to voice their displeasure over his support for a plan to base a squadron of F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport.

While many of the activists in attendance generally agreed with the senior senator’s political philosophy and that of his two fellow Vermont congressional colleagues, they found themselves at odds on the F-35 issue. One woman’s sign read: “Leahy, Sanders, Welch, You’re Breaking My Heart.”

According to a Seven Days report, protesters entered Leahy’s office and demanded the Democratic lawmaker hold a public hearing on the F-35. Leahy’s chief of staff, John Tracy, appeared on the senator’s behalf and dismissed calls for a forum.

Jimmy Leas, a South Burlington attorney long opposed to the planes, pointed out to Tracy that “so far, (Leahy) has only made himself available to speak with supporters of the plane.”

 

[FULL ARTICLE]

 

MCAS Air Show reflects value of the F-35 to Beaufort, nation

By Shannon Erickson
April 25, 2017

The Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Air Show reminds us of our community’s proud support for America’s military, and the importance of our military both to national defense and our local economy.

Because of this impact, I led an effort for the South Carolina House and Senate to pass resolutions supporting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and our county and city councils have joined us in clearly declaring their approval.

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is one of the only bases in the country to house the F-35, and more squadrons are coming.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Billboards support F-35 in Alabama

By Jalea Brooks
April 25, 2017

You may have noticed them around town – The Montgomery area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring billboards across the city to raise awareness of the effort to get the F-35 to locate here. Leaders of the F-35 Task Force say it’s important that the community be aware Montgomery is in the running as a possible home for a fleet of F-35A jets.

Leslie Sanders, chair of the F-35 Task Force says “community support is one of the areas that is looked at when the decision makers are trying to decide where to put the next installation…it’s also important because it underscores the strong partnership and the value that our community on the military.”

Paul Hankins, co-chair of the task force explains “we’ve really ramped up our efforts to really publicize what the F-35 is all about what this competition means to us in terms of jobs and economic impact”.

The F-35 would replace the F-16 planes currently used by the 187th Fighter Wing based at Dannelly Field. Hankins says “they’re flying some of the oldest F-16’s in the Air Force, those planes are due to be retired over the next maybe 5 to 10 years or sooner”.  Hankins adds that while the community support is vital to getting the F-35 to the, “The best hometown of the Air Force”, he hopes that decision makers consider a number of other factors that set Montgomery apart from the competition.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Trump claims F-35s flew over Japan undetected: ‘Pretty cool, right?

By Brad Lendon
May 12, 2017

US President Donald Trump thinks the F-35 fighter is “pretty cool,” but he seems to be a bit confused over what the newest US warplanes have been up to in Japan.

In a White House interview with Time magazine published Thursday, Trump said almost three dozen of the stealth jets flew over Japan undetected during a visit to Tokyo by US Defense Secretary James Mattis in February.
“They had 35 of them fly over Japan … and they were not detected by the radar. They flew over and everyone said where the hell did they come from? That’s stealth. It’s pretty cool, right,” Time quotes Trump as saying in the interview.
[FULL ARTICLE]

Bernie Sanders keeps Vermont press at arms length


By John Walters
Mar. 22,2017

On his way out of the St. Johnsbury Academy gymnasium last Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stopped in the hallway and faced the media.

For all of two minutes. He answered three short questions and hustled on to his next engagement.

Little did I know that this would be my one and only opportunity to ask Sanders a question. I attended five Sanders events in four Vermont towns last week without ever getting another chance.

But that’s just par for the course.

Sanders rarely interacts with Vermont news media.  He’s a constant presence in national newspapers and on cable news — the very “corporate media” he rails against at every opportunity — but not in this state’s media, most of it locally owned. I guess if you’re looking for the biggest possible audience, well, principle be damned.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon buries evidence of $125 Billion in Bureaucratic waste

By Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward
December 5, 2016

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

[FULL ARTICLE]

MacKay laments not buying F-35s

By Stephanie Levitz
June 13th, 2016

Buying a fighter jet that’s different from the one used by Canada’s closest allies risks disconnecting the country from the global alliances it needs the most, a former Conservative defence minister said Monday.

Peter MacKay told a Senate committee that in his mind, there’s no question the Lockheed-Martin F-35 is the right plane for Canada — from defending the Far North to helping to confront the threat of terrorism around the world.

MacKay’s government tried to purchase that very plane but questions about its costs and capabilities forced a halt to the process — something MacKay said he regrets.

“I’m very much lamenting some of the to-ing and fro-ing that’s going on currently over the purchase of fighter aircraft,” he said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Noise information delayed

BY MORGAN TRUE
DEC. 10, 2015

City officials, the Vermont Air National Guard and the Burlington International Airport are making progress toward a joint noise mitigation commission that would include representatives from other affected communities.

Newly released noise exposure maps show more than 2,200 people fall into the area negatively impacted by excessive noise from the airport and the F-16 fighter jets now in use. The maps don’t account for louder F-35 fighter jets that are expected to be based at the airport in 2020.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Lockheed Martin to get $3 billion from F-35 sale to Denmark

By Peter Levring

Denmark’s government plans to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets with Lockheed Martin planes in an order worth 20 billion kroner ($3 billion).

The minority government of Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, which still needs parliamentary approval before the order can be placed, wants to spend the money on 27 F-35 jets to replace old Lockheed Martin F-16s, Defense Minister Peter Christensen and Rasmussen said at a press conference in Copenhagen on Thursday. Boeing had also competed for the deal.

Denmark is revamping its fleet at a time when the “world security map has changed, producing new threats closer to Europe and Denmark,” Rasmussen said, highlighting Russia, the Middle East and Northern Africa as areas for concern.

[FULL ARTICLE]

America’s last fighter jet makers scramble to keep production alive


BY MARCUS WEISGERBER
MAY 12, 2016

In the southwest corner of a mile-long assembly plant here, an F-16 fighter jet is slowly coming to life. That plane, being built for the Iraqi Air Force, is far more sophisticated than the first Falcon to come off this production line more than 40 years ago, but it soon could become one of the last.

To the northeast by 575 miles, a similar scene is playing out inside another manufacturing facility. Here it’s the F-15 Eagle and F/A-18 Super Hornet, two more 1970s relics that have been redesigned and modernized heavily over the decades.

Without more orders by the U.S. military or its allies, production of these three planes, which gave America supremacy of the skies for more than four decades, will halt by 2020.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Decades later, sickness among airmen

By Dave Philipps
June 19, 2016

It was one of the biggest nuclear accidents in history, and the United States wanted it cleaned up quickly and quietly. But if the men getting onto buses were told anything about the Air Force’s plan for them to clean up spilled radioactive material, it was usually, “Don’t worry.”

“There was no talk about radiation or plutonium or anything else,” said Frank B. Thompson, a then 22-year-old trombone player who spent days searching contaminated fields without protective equipment or even a change of clothes. “They told us it was safe, and we were dumb enough, I guess, to believe them.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 Will Fly Despite Auditor’s Fleet-Grounding Warning

By Patrick Tucker
April 17, 2016

Pentagon officials say the plane can fly without the aircraft’s enormously complex diagnostics system.

Problems with the Joint Strike Fighter’s logistics software will not keep the F-35 fleet from flying, the Pentagon says, contrary to a new Government Accountability Office, or GAO, report that hinted at a possible grounding.

In the April 14 report, GAO officials say problems with one of the jet fighter’s software suites are so severe that “it could take the entire F-35 fleet offline” if there was a failure, in part because there’s no backup to the system.

[FULL ARTICLE]

DOD F-35 program office, breaking the law

By Eric Palmer
April 18, 2016

The U.S. Government Account Office has released two reports on the troubled F-35 program.

One on the program and “new capabilities”. Another, on the F-35s faulty total logistics management system called ALIS.

The one on ALIS has no surprises. The problems have been ongoing for years and, it was years ago that fixes were promised.

The other report? Billions needed to work on Block 4 of the F-35. The problem with this is it is blue-sky marketing. The F-35 program is still in DOD procurement milestone B. That is, after all these years: early development. The primary goal of the F-35 program currently in its system design and demonstration (SDD) stage is to show a fully functional Block 3 capability. Key word: ‘demonstration.’

[FULL ARTICLE]

Flying Public Relations Blitz? Pentagon Finds Only Good Use for F-35

March 26, 2016

With its reputation effectively flown through the mud, the F-35 will seek public approval by performing alongside WWII fighters in an air show tour.

With a price tag of over $1 trillion, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been riddled with problems that include everything from cybersecurity issues to basic flight capabilities.

“[The F-35] has already been in development for more than twenty years,” reads a report conducted by the non-profit Project on Government Oversight. “The plane is still years away from being capable of providing any real contribution to the [US] national defense if, in fact, it ever will be.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

The Truth about the F-35

By Eileen Andreoli
Apr. 18, 2016

This commentary is by a member of SaveOurSkiesVT.org.

In recent stories about the accelerated pace for the basing in Vermont of the under-tested and mechanically flawed F-35s, Gov. Peter Shumlin states, “This initiative will benefit the Vermont National Guard, create jobs, and spur economic development in Chittenden County and surrounding areas.”

Shumlin has repeated these same lies for the last three years. When challenged in 2013 to provide the source for his comments that the F-35s would create jobs, his reply was: “The specific quote you referenced should have referred to the more than one thousand direct and indirect jobs attributable to the air base that I strongly believe will be retained if we are chosen for F-35 basing.”

Retaining jobs does not equal creating jobs! Even after he was challenged on these falsehoods, and despite his excuse that he meant to say “retained” jobs instead of creating them, he is back at it again, repeating the same lies. His continued misrepresentation of the facts must be exposed for the outright lies they are.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Sanders’ position on the F-35 contradicts his views on defense spending

By Sarah Sicard
Jan. 14, 2016

Though Sen. Bernie Sanders advocates for spending cuts, he also supports the costliest program ever funded.
Democratic candidate for president and Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders, seems to have contradictory policies regarding the Defense Department.

Within his platform regarding the military, he suggests that the U.S. military spends too much money on defense, and is known to staunchly oppose military engagement unless absolutely necessary.

In a town hall meeting in Iowa City, Sanders said, “We know that there is massive fraud going on in the defense industry. Virtually every major defense contractor has either been convicted of fraud or reached a settlement with the government …We need a strong military, it is a dangerous world. But I think we can make judicious cuts.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Bernie Backs Trillion Dollar Weapon System

By Ben Armbruster
Feb. 17, 2016

As we all know by now, Bernie Sanders is campaigning on a promise to change American politics in such a way that benefits the middle class and working families at the expense of corporate greed and influence.

“I am asking you to be part of a political revolution,” Bernie told his supporters last summer. “A revolution which transforms our country economically, politically, socially, and environmentally.”

While some have wondered how Bernie’s revolution will stand up to the realities of governing should he win the White House, what’s often been overlooked is the fact that the Vermont Independent has had plenty of opportunities to buck the system as a U.S. Senator. He has not always taken those opportunities, instead siding with big corporations at the expense of the taxpayer.

Nowhere is this more evident than his unwavering support for one of the biggest boondoggles in U.S. military history: the F-35.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Thunder without Lightning: The high costs and limited benefits of the F-35

By Bill French

August 2015

The National Security Network (NSN) is pleased to release a new policy report, Thunder without Lightning: The High Costs and Limited Benefits of the F-35. According to our analysis, the F-35 lacks the capabilities to execute its primary mission, and costs too much relative to its predecessors. The Department of Defense should examine ways to reduce its commitment to this albatross of an acquisition program.

From the report:

“To perform against near-peer adversaries, the F-35 will have to be capable of executing a range of missions, from defeating enemy aircraft to penetrating enemy air defenses to strike surface targets. But the F-35 will struggle to effectively perform these missions due to shortcomings in its design and program requirements, despite costing between three and nine times more than the 4th-generation aircraft it is designed to replace.

The F-35 will find itself outmaneuvered, outgunned, out of range, and visible to enemy sensors. Going forward, full investment in the F-35 would be to place a bad trillion-dollar bet on the future of airpower based on flawed assumptions and an underperforming aircraft. To avoid such a catastrophic outcome, Congress and DOD should begin the process of considering alternatives to a large-scale commitment to the F-35. Staying the present course may needlessly gamble away a sizable margin of American airpower at great expense and unnecessary risk to American lives.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Sanders position on the F-35 contradicts his views on defense spending

Sarah Sicard
January 14, 2016

Though Sen. Bernie Sanders advocates for spending cuts, he also supports the costliest program ever funded.
Democratic candidate for president and Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders, seems to have contradictory policies regarding the Defense Department.

Within his platform regarding the military, he suggests that the U.S. military spends too much money on defense, and is known to staunchly oppose military engagement unless absolutely necessary.

In a town hall meeting in Iowa City, Sanders said, “We know that there is massive fraud going on in the defense industry.  Virtually every major defense contractor has either been convicted of fraud or reached a settlement with the government …We need a strong military, it is a dangerous world.  But I think we can make judicious cuts.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Bernie Sanders Loves this $1 Trillion War Machine

Tim Mak
February 9, 2016

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Sen. Bernie Sanders has railed against big defense corporations at rallies, but he has a more complex history with the military-industrial complex. Most notably, he’s supported a $1.2 trillion stealth fighter that’s considered by many to be one of the bigger boondoggles in Pentagon history.

Sanders has made his opposition to Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness a cornerstone of his campaign. But he hasn’t exactly been antiwar all his career. When it has come time to choose between defense jobs and a dovish defense policy, Sanders has consistently chosen to stand with the arms-makers rather than the peaceniks—leading to tension with some of the most adamant adherents of progressive ideology.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 total disaster

By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry
January 27, 2016

The F-35 is an absolute disaster, and it needs to go. The scandals around it are legion.

The supersonic stealth plane called the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was supposed to be the greatest and best military plane the world has ever seen. While the United States’ stealthy F-22 is an “air superiority” plane, ensuring the country’s dominance over the skies, which is why exporting it is illegal, the F-35 was supposed to be able to do everything, and be the standard fighter-bomber of the U.S. and most countries with which the U.S. has friendly relations. It was supposed to be stealthy, to be able take off and land vertically, and to know everything about everything thanks to its amazing software and sensors. It can’t do any of those things so far.

The program has cost $1.3 trillion so far. By comparison, the Apollo Program, which actually sent people to the moon, cost about $170 billion in 2005 dollars. The F-35 is literally the most expensive military project in history. By 2014, the program was $163 billion over budget, and seven years behind schedule.

[FULL ARTICLE]

An intrusion on our home

By Bruce S. Post
FEB. 1, 2016

The passionate disagreements about the F-35 and industrial wind share a commonality: the meaning of home.

“Home is the place,” wrote Robert Frost, “where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Home and hearth are rooted in our soul, private places of respite and retreat from the grinding gears of public life. The expression “if these walls could talk” symbolizes that our dwellings are more than simply structures; they are storehouses of memories, giving us a sense of our individual and familial selves.

That is the romantic vision. Less romantically, we are never completely safe in our homes. We are wary of the stranger at the door, fearful of the burglar and the thief. We fear the sense of violation that comes with a lock pried, window broken and drawers thrown about indiscriminately. We arm ourselves with dead-bolt locks, alarm systems, barred windows and bullets and guns. The claim “I never lock my door” seems naïve and foolhardy. “Be careful,” we caution, “you never know.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Resident frustration with airport noise maps

BY MORGAN TRUE
November 10, 2015

SOUTH BURLINGTON — Close to 150 residents packed the gymnasium at the Chamberlin Elementary School on Monday night to take a first look at new noise exposure maps drafted by the Burlington International Airport.

The noise maps were last updated in 2006, and the draft maps released Monday are the first to account for the afterburners on the Air National Guard’s F-16 fighter jet engines.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Bernie and the Jets

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
NOVEMBER 13, 2015

As Clintons are wont to do, Hillary laid a political trap and Bernie Sanders, in his Schlemiel-like way, stumbled right into it. In the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s smashing victory as the new leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Hillary’s super-PAC, Correct the Record, tarred Sanders as a Corbyn-lite renegade who has cozied up to untouchable figures like Hugo Chavez.

About a decade ago, Sanders was part of a delegation that negotiated a sensible deal to bring low-cost heating oil from Venezuela to poor families in the northeastern United States. But instead of defending his honorable role in this ex parte negotiation, Sanders wilted. In a fundraising email to his legions of Sandernistas, Bernie fumed at being “linked to a dead Communist dictator.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Bernie Sanders continues to support the military-industrial complex over Vermonters

From: “U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders” <[email protected]>

Date: November 9, 2015, 5:41:22 PM EST

Subject: Email from Senator Sanders

bernie-sanders

Thank you for contacting me about the U.S. Air Force’s decision to base the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in South Burlington.  I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns on this very important issue.

Let me begin by stating that I believe it speaks to the commendable record of the Vermont National Guard that the Air Force decided to base its newest generation of planes in South Burlington.  The Vermont Guard played a critical role responding to the September 11 attacks in New York, Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont, and Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.  And, while I personally have deep concerns about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is no question that Vermont Guard members have served admirably and honorably – often at enormous personal cost – when called to active duty.

I do not want to see the role of the Vermont Air National Guard diminished or eliminated, and this decision ensures the mission of the Vermont Air Guard far into the future.  It protects the jobs and educational opportunities for more than a thousand Vermonters while securing the Guard’s significant contribution to the local economy for years to come.  Moreover, a failure to be chosen in the first F-35 basing round would have exposed the Burlington Air Guard Station to the Base Realignment and Closure process, and that is why the Vermont Guard leadership unequivocally believed the best way to ensure their mission was to get the F-35.  I supported that position.

There are residents near the airport who are very legitimately concerned about noise, and I share that concern.  Along with Senator Leahy and Congressman Welch, I have asked the Air Force to address noise concerns.  We have also urged the Guard to work closely with its airport neighbors to reduce noise to the extent possible through operational measures such as limiting afterburner use, flying at less than full military power, modifying take-off and landing patterns, etc.

And, like many Vermonters I have serious concerns about the cost of this plane.  Throughout my career, I have called for cutting military spending and rooting-out fraud, waste and corruption in the defense industry.  At the very least, I believe Lockheed Martin must cover cost overages, rather than the U.S. taxpayer. 

However, whether one likes the F-35 or not, the Air Force is moving forward with plans to replace the F-16 with the F-35.  As long as the F-35 is deployed anywhere, I would rather protect the mission of the citizen soldiers of the Vermont Guard, and maintain 1100 jobs here in Vermont, rather than in South Carolina or Florida. 

Thank you again for contacting me, and please feel free to stay in touch about this or any other subject of interest to you.  For up-to-date information on what I am working on, please sign-up for my e-newsletter, the Bernie Buzz, at http://sanders.senate.gov/buzz/.

Sincerely,

BERNARD SANDERS

United States Senator

Pilots praise survivability and stealth of F-35

By Phillip Swarts
October 5, 2015

Some pilots who have flown the F-35 Lightning II say its capabilities are “unmatched.”

“This is by far the easiest airplane I’ve ever flown in my life,” said Col. Todd Canterbury, chief of the F-35 Integration Office Operations Division, during a Sept. 18 showing of the aircraft at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

“What does that mean? That means that I can now focus on the battlefield, focus on the tactics at hand, rather than try to manipulate and fly the aircraft to where I need it to be,” Canterbury said. “The increased situational awareness that this brings increases my survivability on the battlefield. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s protecting the men and women that are going to fly these airplanes every single day and bringing themback home safely.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

AF to airmen: Defend the F-35

By Phillip Swarts
October 5, 2015

Air Force leaders are telling airmen to “explain why we need the F-35,” according to a leaked internal document from Secretary Deborah Lee James’ office.

The eight-page internal memo, marked “Not for Public Release,” gives airmen a step-by-step guide on how to “debunk false narratives and inaccuracies reflected in news media reporting” about the military’s controversial new plane.

[FULL ARTICLE]

General Blasts A-10 vs. F-35 Debate as ‘Ludicrous’

By Richard Sisk
September 15th, 2015

Air Force Gen. Herbert. J. “Hawk” Carlisle said Tuesday the raging debate over whether the A-10 or the F-35 is better equipped to perform close air support was totally missing the point on the future of the mission.

“What we’ve got to talk about is how you do UCAS (unconventional close air support) better,” rather than which aircraft can do it better, the head of Air Combat Command said. “The discussion of what platform is going to replace the A-10 is ludicrous. We have to talk about how to do it better, and we do it better with technology.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Canada’s Liberals Against F-35 Purchase

Agence France-Presse
September 20, 2015

OTTAWA, Canada— Canada’s Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said on the campaign trail Sunday that he would scrap the purchase of F-35s — the apparent frontrunner to replace the nation’s aging fleet of fighter jets.

“We will not buy the F-35 fighter jet,” he told a rally in Halifax ahead of Oct. 19 elections.

Taking Lockheed Martin’s F35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters off the table would leave Ottawa with three options: the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale and Boeing’s Super Hornet.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Kendall: Canadian Suppliers Will Continue To Support F-35

By Lara Seligman
September 23, 2015

FORT WORTH, Texas — Amid renewed questions about Canada’s commitment to the F-35 fighter jet, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official said the Canadian supply base will remain an essential part of the program, even if the nation does not buy the aircraft.

“I believe those suppliers are part of the team, I don’t see any reason why they would not continue to be part of the team whether Canada [buys jets] or not,” Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for acquisition, told reporters here during a ceremony to celebrate the roll out of Norway’s first F-35. “We make our decisions on participation based on best value, and if Canadian firms are still best value, then they will be part of the program.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Increase Air Force budget or face consequences: Column

By Deborah Lee James
September 25, 2015

At a time when our nation is slashing defense budgets, we face a security environment that is extraordinarily complex and volatile, and our Air Force is busier than ever.

Over the last year, 25,000 Airmen deployed in support of contingencies around the world. They flew almost 20,000 close air support missions and dropped over 3,800 bombs with a 99{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67} hit rate. Airmen flew more than 100,000 mobility and tanker sorties offloading almost 200 million gallons of fuel to joint and coalition forces and performed over 900 medical evacuations, including critical lifesaving surgeries in flight. Airmen collected and analyzed 18 million images and 1.6 million hours of video garnered by our air patrols, performed over 9,000 cyber operations protecting critical networks and launched 11 space missions.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Baloney Meter: Will cancelling F-35 ‘crater’ the Canadian aerospace industry?

By The Canadian Press
September 22, 2015

OTTAWA — “He’s not giving shipbuilding anything; he’s merely talking about cratering our aerospace industry, which is, as I say, bad policy…. I don’t understand where they’re going with this.” — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s promise to scrap the F-35 stealth fighter program and channel the savings into naval shipbuilding.

One of the cornerstones of the Liberal defence policy is to formally opt out of the Conservative government’s plan to acquire 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets to replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of 1980s vintage CF-18s.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Lockheed considering laser weapon concepts for F-35

BY: JAMES DREW
OCTOBER 5, 2015

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 has not yet seen combat, but already the defence manufacturer is exploring “concepts” for installing and employing a high-power fibre laser weapon on the new-generation combat jet for shooting down missiles and other airborne threats.

The company believes it finally has the right technology to produce modular and scalable fibre laser weapons for trucks, ships and aircraft, and a high-power, 60kW example will enter production for the US Army later this month

[FULL ARTICLE]

Election Will Determine Canadian Role in F-35 Program

By David Pugliese
October 11, 2015

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Whether Canada withdraws from the F-35 program will be decided next week as Canadians select a new political party to form the country’s next government.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau says if elected on Oct. 19, his government would remove Canada from the F-35 program and select a less costly aircraft to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 fighter jets. The savings from such a move would be redirected into naval shipbuilding, according to Trudeau.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Competition in Canadian fighter jet project would benefit taxpayers, industry, says former procurement chief

By DAVID PUGLIESE
October 4, 2015

On Sept. 24 Richard Shimooka had an opinion piece in the National Post arguing that the F-35 is still the best bet for Canada. He stated that a competition would be a costly and largely pointless process “with the outcome likely to be the reselection of the F-35.”

 

Alan Williams, who signed the original MOU committing Canada to the research and development aspect of the F-35 disagrees.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Ten Things You Should Know About the Air Force’s F-35 Propaganda Effort

By Tony Carr
Sept 23, 2015

WASHINGTON — Recently, the Air Force’s F-35 program has been facing fresh skepticism and new scrutiny. Interestingly, it’s not the program’s trillion-dollar price tag, dubious design, or stunted development raising new doubts, but something more fundamental: senior officials speaking for the program are hemorrhaging public credibility with transparently desperate misrepresentations aimed at putting a positive face on a failing program.

Media, members of Congress, thought leaders, and even airmen themselves are growing uncomfortable with the risks lurking in the program, notwithstanding endless streams of reassuring propaganda, much of it paid for with public funds.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Military Carbon Footprint

By Lisa Savage
July 12, 2015

I oppose wars and militarism of policing because they are morally wrong. People suffer from state-sponsored violence in their lives and I do not want to fund it, tolerate it or ignore it.

But “join me in opposing war because it is wrong” is not a very effective message in these times.

One must counter immense spending on propaganda constantly persuading fellow citizens that investment in weapons of mass destruction, and basing an economy on “security” and surveillance, makes everyone safer. Along with regularly orchestrated (and well-funded) terror events and squads designed to keep fear high.

[Full Article]

American security psychosis

By Stephen Kinzer
APRIL 12, 2015

WHEN AMERICANS look out at the world, we see a swarm of threats. China seems resurgent and ambitious. Russia is aggressive. Iran menaces our allies. Middle East nations we once relied on are collapsing in flames. Latin American leaders sound steadily more anti-Yankee. Terror groups capture territory and commit horrific atrocities. We fight Ebola with one hand while fending off Central American children with the other.

In fact, this world of threats is an illusion. The United States has no potent enemies. We are not only safe, but safer than any big power has been in all of modern history.

[Full Article]

The battle to kill the A-10

By Brian Everstine, Staff writer
March 23, 2015

The Air Force is on the attack to eliminate the beloved A-10, insisting that the venerable Warthog is not the only airframe up to the close-air support task.

To press the point, service leaders showcased a group of fighter pilots, who described their CAS missions in other aircraft. But opponents on Capitol Hill, and troops on the ground, aren’t having it, and the service faces an uphill battle to cut the jet and bring its beleaguered F-35 online in time.

[Full Article]

Anon F35 letter from Washington DC area

Anon F35 letter from Washington DC area

Domestic Military Expansion Spreads Through the US, Ignites Dissent

By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

What if you lived in a country that allowed its Navy to fly the loudest aircraft in the world over your home day and night, generating sonic booms that rattled the windows of people living in a neighboring country, and test new weapons in areas that would knowingly harm, or possibly kill, humans and wildlife?

Welcome to the United States, which has a military with an increasing domestic expansion that may soon be coming to your town, city or national forest.

That the US military knowingly tested new weapons on US citizens (possibly in the thousands), wildlife or even its own soldiers is nothing new. Publicly available documents reveal how the US military has even released nerve gas in public areas, as well as farms, to see the effects on civilians and animals. This occurred during the 1960s, when the United States secretly tested both chemical and biological weapons on US soil, including releasing deadly nerve agents in Alaska and spraying bacteria over Hawaii.

Full Article

The People Versus the Military Industrial Complex

3-year campaign comes to a head this Monday

The improbable campaign against the basing of the F-35 in Burlington began as early as 2010.

That year, a local official described himself to a Seven Days reporter as “100 percent receptive” to having F-35s at Burlington International.  He infamously said, “I hear the noise the F-16 makes, I think it’s exciting.  I think it’s part of being in a lively community. If you want quiet all the time, you should move to Montgomery.”

This was Gene Richards, a former chair of the Burlington-run Airport Commission—who has now been promoted to Airport Director.  Media reports described Richards as a local mortgage broker, banker, and real estate entrepreneur.  Regional officials, downtown business leaders, airline representatives, and the Vermont National Guard all endorsed Richard’s nomination by Burlington Mayor Weinberger to Airport Director. He has no doubt continued to work closely with Mayor Weinberger and other F-35 boosters, including the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, and Commercial Real Estate baron Ernie Pomerleau.  All these boosters share 2 things in common: They all stand to economically or politically benefit from the basing, and they all had taken for granted they can decide important matters like the F-35 basing without public involvement and without suffering any of the negative impacts.

Read rest of article:  http://saveourskiesvt.org/the-people-versus-the-military-industrial-complex/

Way To Go BFP: Asks Tough Questions of Vermont Delegation, Governor and Burlington’s Mayor on F-35

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Tuesday June 4th, 2013

Burlington, VT

Journalist, John Briggs reports that the Burlington Free Press has sent numerous detailed and specific questions to Senators Patrick Leahy, Bernard Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, and Burlington Vermont Mayor Miro Weinberger emanating from a meeting with aviation designer Pierre Sprey, USAF Col. Rosanne Greco (ret.) and Chris Hurd and from Friday’s revised Air Force Environmental Impact Statement. The Free Press has specifically asked for individual responses from Vermont’s top political leadership rather than their unified joint comments with a June 12th deadline for responses.

We wholeheartedly applaud the journalists and leadership at the Burlington Free Press. This is a shining star example of the important role a FREE press plays in our democracy!

Click here to read the entire list of questions the Burlington Free Press sent to Vermont’s Political Elite Leadership all steadfast supporters for bringing the F-35’s to Vermont.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

BFP: Politicians continue F-35 support as Air Force ups number of residents affected by noise

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Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Burlington VT

Burlington Free Press Reports: A joint statement from the congressional delegation and the governor reiterated the group’s support for the plane: “We continue to believe basing the plane in South Burlington will be good for the future of the Vermont Air Guard and for the state’s economy,” the statement said.

These guys can’t be for real. They’re going to go down with the ship.

Come on Vermont. Just say NO!

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS!!! BFP EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR AKI SOGA STATES F-35 DECISION MUST BE OPEN PROCESS

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Burlington Vermont

This morning the largest paper circulated in Vermont, The Burlington FREE Press and their Editorial Editor issued a major article confirming that there are serious implications concerning the F-35’s coming to Vermont and too many unanswered questions. The BFP and Mr. Soga wrote that the time is now for a CALL TO ACTION for an open and transparent disclosure(s) regarding the basing of F-35 warplanes in Vermont. We applaud the Burlington FREE Press and Mr. Soga for their/his courage to take this position and their call for openness, transparency and disclosure at this time.

We ALL need to come together and say NO to the basing of F-35’s here until we have all necessary facts and they have been properly presented via public forums/meetings with all interested parties present including our political, business, military leaders, Lockheed Martin and our citizens.

Perhaps, we should call on the Burlington Free Press to moderate such an event, call it a Citizens’Hearing #2, bringing everyone together to GET THE FACTS OUT so that we can arrive at the best decision not only for Vermont but for our country at such a fragile moment in our economic health. Tell us what you think!

Make no mistake! The door has just widened in a MAJOR way to build deeper opposition to the F-35 basing in Vermont. This call for openness and transparency is what We have been calling for ALL along.

We need you Vermont, one and all, to get engaged on this and “pitch in” to help defeat the F-35 now!! The public comment period is ticking down. We only have until July 15th, which is a legal deadline, at which time the door will permanently close for any citizens to comment in any way with regard to this issue.

WE HAVE NO TIME TO WASTE VERMONT!

WE NEED YOU NOW!

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

 

 

As jets seem bound for Vt., questions of political influence arise

By Bryan Bender
Boston Globe

[…]

A Globe examination of records, and interviews with Pentagon officials directly involved with the review, show the Air Force — in selecting Vermont over competing locations — relied on inaccurate, excessively low estimates of the impact of the jet blast on the local population.

One of the Pentagon officials said in an interview that the lengthy base-selection process was deliberately “fudged’’ by military brass so that Leahy’s home state would win.

“Unfortunately Burlington was selected even before the scoring process began,” said the official, who asked that he not to be identified for fear of reprisals from his superiors. “I wish it wasn’t true, but unfortunately that is the way it is. The numbers were fudged for Burlington to come out on top. If the scoring had been done correctly Burlington would not have been rated higher.”

Leahy, in an e-mailed statement, reiterated his support for the planes but did not respond to allegations of political influence. The Air Force denied the fix was in for Vermont, even though it now says it is reassessing residential impacts and other factors using updated information — a review that could end in a reversal of its preliminary decision.

Pentagon officials said the first set of sound projections, provided by Burlington International Airport and Vermont National Guard in 2008 to the Federal Aviation Administration, caused the Air Force to underestimate the number of homes that would be affected by replacing the Vermont Guard’s current squadron of F-16s with up to 24 of the more sophisticated, but louder, F-35s.

[…]

In general, the FAA recommends that local authorities not permit the construction of residential homes in the areas affected by high noise levels, but the decisions on how to mitigate problems are left to communities. Homeowners are unlikely to be forced to move, but the FAA’s designation of a sound zone that is “incompatible with residential use’’ makes it exceedingly difficult to sell homes.

“I realize the military needs to advance,” Tucker said, “but there is a community here that needs to be addressed.”

Leahy’s senate colleague Sanders, too, says he wants more information about how the selection of Burlington was made.

“I take seriously allegations that the scoring process may have been flawed,” he told the Globe in a statement Friday, adding that the Air Force should release all of its documentation. “I do believe the process must be transparent and fair.”

SOURCE

F35 Basing Scoresheets: Clear and Serious Errors

These are the Burlington scoresheets for the potential basing of the F-35. This scoresheet is compared against others scoresheets (which have been kept secret by the Air Force) to help determine which locations are the best ones for the F-35 to be located at. The scoresheets are a bit complicted and we’ve tried to clarify them in our comments. We point out the clear and serious errors in the scoresheet below.

Regarding “encroachment” on the scoring sheet, the first two questions (see page 5 for the questions) are:

  • Is there incompatible development in the clear zones and/or accident potential zones?
  • Is there incompatible development in noise contours above 65 dB DNL?

As indicated on the scoring sheet, a check in the box means “yes” and no check in the box means “no.”

Under “encroachment” Burlington got no check in the box and 3 points for having “no” development in the clear zones and/or accident potential zones. Burlington got no check in the box and another 3 points for having “no” development in noise contours above 65 dB DNL.

But Burlington has 32 commercial buildings in the clear zones and 1400 residential properties in the accident potential zones and Burlington has 2944 homes in the noise contours above 65 dB DNL.

Burlington should have gotten a check in both boxes indicated “yes,” to development in both. Burlington should not have gotten 3 points for each. Burlington’s score was boosted by a total of 6 points.

Some more articles about the Boston Globe article

Boston Globe, WPTZ, WCAX, Burlington Free Press, Seven Days, VPR

Meeting at 7pm today at Winooski High School (north wing) to plan action.

“As jets seem bound for Vt., questions of political influence arise,” By Bryan Bender and Globe Staff April 14, 2013
http://bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2013/04/13/selection-vermont-guard-base-for-jets-was-based-flawed-data-raising-questions-political-influence/pmhiPtI1BPWxwC3yK1adAL/story.html

“F-35 basing data ‘fudged’,” by David Charns WPTZ April 14, 2013
http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/Report-F-35-basing-data-fudged/-/8869880/19747334/-/gv95nmz/-/index.html

“Is political influence driving F-35 decision?” Posted: Apr 14, 2013 6:00 PM EDT By WCAX News
http://www.wcax.com/story/21974714/in-a-report-in-sundays-boston-globe-critics-of-the-program-say-its-more-sen-patrick-leahys-political-sway-driving-the-decision-making-rather-than-the

“Leahy’s role questioned in bringing F-35 to Burlington,” by John Briggs, Burlington Free Press, April 15, 2013
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20130415/NEWS03/304150017/Leahy-s-role-questioned-bringing-F-35-Burlington

“Globe Probes “Political Influence” in Vermont’s F-35 Selection,” by Paul Heintz, Seven Days, April 15, 2013, 8:46am
http://7d.blogs.com/offmessage/2013/04/morning-read-globe-probes-political-influence-in-vermonts-f-35-selection.html

“Leahy Responds To F-35 ‘Preliminary Approval'” by Kirk Carapezza, April 15, 2013
http://digital.vpr.net/post/leahy-resonds-f-35-preliminary-approval

Credit Kirk Carapezza / VPR
Vermont real estate developer Ernie Pomerleau observes a F-35 fighter jet inside a hangar at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida in December

BFP on Florida trip

 

Fighter_jet_opponents_see_Florida_trip_as_junket_-1cFighter_jet_opponents_see_Florida_trip_as_junket_-1a Fighter_jet_opponents_see_Florida_trip_as_junket_-1b

The People of Vermont versus the Military Industrial Complex

F-35 opponents turned out to the Bernie Sanders Labor Day Picnic in Burlington. The Coalition distributed informational leaflets to over 200 people. Picnic attendees were overwhelmingly eager to learn more about the issue.
protester
(See some of the great placards below.) Unfortunately Senator Sanders continues to dismiss those opposed to the basing by saying that he doesn’t need their votes anyway, and he still refuses to even meet with some of the over 6,000 people who live in the area that will be “incompatible” with residential use if the F-35 is based in Burlington. We believe meeting with us would be very helpful since he clearly doesn’t understand what the effects of the F-35 will be on residents, schools, and neighborhoods, and he continues to repeat unsubstantiated claims about jobs losses if the F-35 doesn’t come to Vermont.
protester
protester
protester

Greco: F-35A Basing Flaws: Scores, Process, and Arguments

After reading the scoring sheet and the accompanying background paper, and speaking with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the AF (Installations), I’ve come away with new reservations—this time about the process.

I’ve maintained mistakes were made in scoring the Burlington Air Guard Station (AGS), which led to Burlington being selected as the preferred base for the F-35A multi-role fighter aircraft. But I had no reason to doubt the process. However, I now conclude that BOTH the scoring data AND the scoring process are flawed. And after reading some public comments, I think the two major arguments in favor of basing–economics and support of our military–are also flawed.

Scoring Flaw
The scoring sheet shows the mistake. In simple terms, the questions asked are whether there are any homes in the accident and noise areas. The answer given is ‘no.’ But, there are thousands of homes there. Look at the questions, look at the answers, and then look around the airport area. Without a doubt that question was answered incorrectly, and Burlington received more points than it should have. We need the scoring sheets for the other Air Guard bases considered, to see that Burlington was not the top candidate. Unfortunately, the AF will not release that data to us without a freedom of information act request.

Process Flaw
It was during my conversation with Secretary Ferguson, that I learned of process flaws. The AF evaluated a base’s suitability for the F-35A in four categories: cost, mission, capacity, and environment. The first category (cost) seemed to be straightforward, as it reflected the cost-of-living in the area. The next two categories (mission and capacity) evaluated whether the base could accommodate the F-35A. It asked whether the airspace and weather in the area would be suitable for the F-35A mission. It asked whether the runway length could accommodate the F-35A. It asked whether the base facilities (maintenance bays, munitions storage and other infrastructure) could accommodate the F-35A.

However, the questions asked in the environmental category were not related to the F-35A. They were related to the existing F-16. The questions were not whether there would be homes and other structures in the accident and noise areas for the F-35A; but whether there are existing homes and structures in the accident and noise areas for the F-16. Of course, the answer to that question is ‘YES’ (see above). The process the AF followed in this scoring is mind-boggling. For two categories (mission and capacity), they evaluated the base’s suitability for the future aircraft–the F-35A; but for one category (environment) they evaluated the base’s suitability for the existing aircraft—the F-16.

Argument Flaws
Most of the economic impact arguments made in support of basing the F-35A center around the AGS closing. The implied assumption is that if Burlington is not selected now for the F-35A that the AGS will close. No official has ever said that. This basing process is only the first of several rounds for selecting bases for the F-35A. Burlington could likely be selected in a subsequent round. It’s not a “now or never” proposition. But, even were Burlington not selected to base the F-35A in the future, that does not mean the Burlington AGS will close. Despite F-16 retirement predictions, military aircraft often fly years (sometimes decades) beyond their expected lifespan. But even when the F-16 eventually stops flying, that does not mean the AGS will close. The Guard would likely get another mission. As world threat conditions change, military missions change, and bases get new missions.

Others say that supporting the F-35A shows our patriotism and support for the military. I disagree. Giving the Guard an outlandishly-priced weapon system is not the way to show our appreciation. Giving them pay raises, increasing their benefits, insuring they receive adequate health care, insuring their retirement benefits are not reduced, and above all, trying to keep them out of harm’s way are far better ways to support our military members.

We can show our support for the military by opposing the routine practice of paying for extravagant weapon systems by cutting military personnel benefits, salaries, and jobs. The AF routinely reduces the force (fires) military members in order to use this personnel money to pay for weapons. Supporting the F-35A will make senior defense industry executives richer and the average military member poorer.

With all of the above flaws, and the many unanswered questions, many hope it would prompt our Congressional delegates to re-consider their position on F-35A basing. But at a minimum, I respectfully urge them to at least call for a temporary hold on any decision until the scores and the process are reviewed more thoroughly. Without this detailed examination, doubts will forever linger.

Colonel Rosanne M. Greco, USAF, (ret)
South Burlington, VT
8 July 2012

From Pentagon, a Buy Rating on Contractors

By JOE NOCERA
At the Cowen & Company military industry investment conference on Wednesday, the breakfast speaker was a man named Ashton B. Carter. A former academic and industry consultant, Dr. Carter, as he likes to call himself — he has a doctorate in theoretical physics, in case you were wondering — is the Defense Department’s under secretary for acquisitions, technology and logistics. That is, he’s the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.

This article from the NY Times. Original at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/business/12nocera.html.

Cowen is a small firm, but its military analyst, Cai von Rumohr, has been on the beat for more than 40 years. Companies tend not to turn him down when he invites them to his conference. W. James McNerney Jr., the chief executive of Boeing, would be making a presentation later in the day, as would executives from Northrop-Grumman and other contractors. Big institutional investors like T. Rowe Price were out in force.

As was the Defense Department. In addition to Mr. Carter, a top Naval official was scheduled to present the next afternoon.

If you’re wondering what high-ranking Pentagon officials were doing at an investment conference, well, suffice to say that this was not a question on the minds of the people in this room. They’ve gotten used to it. For the last few months, beginning with a secret meeting last October, Defense Department officials have been making the rounds of analysts and investors.

Their main message, to put it bluntly, is that even in an era of tighter budgets, the Pentagon is going to make sure the military industry remains profitable. “Taxpayers and shareholders are aligned,” Mr. Carter intoned on Wednesday. Then he laid out a series of reforms that he said would both increase competition and maintain, as he put it, “profitability over the long term” — a phrase he repeated for emphasis.

He told the assemblage that the Pentagon would frown on mergers among the five giant military contractors — the so-called primes: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman and Boeing. However, he added, the Defense Department was going to encourage mergers among smaller military contractors. And, he said, “we will be attentive” to innovative smaller companies that provide services (as opposed to weapons systems) to the Pentagon.

If you were an investor in the military industry, would you find this useful information? You bet — this is the stuff that can move markets. Although Mr. Carter made several references to “market forces,” the only market for the military industry is the government, which spends some $400 billion a year on weapons systems and other purchases. In economic terms, the Pentagon is a “ monopsony,” a single buyer with life-or-death power over its vendors. If the Pentagon wants the military industry to be healthy and profitable, it can pretty much ensure that outcome.

Not being an industry insider, however, I found myself a little taken aback by Mr. Carter’s “guidance.” Monopsony or not, why should the Pentagon be talking up the stocks, even implicitly, of the companies it buys from? Why was Mr. Carter going out of his way to talk to investors and analysts? Didn’t he have more important things to do?

The answer, I eventually learned, has to do with something that happened a very long time ago, and goes under the category of “Be careful what you wish for.” Let’s just say that banking isn’t the only industry where the government has allowed a handful of companies to become too big to fail.

The year was 1993. Bill Clinton was the new president, and Les Aspin was his defense secretary. As recounted later by Norman R. Augustine, then the chief executive of Martin Marietta, Mr. Aspin called together about 15 C.E.O.’s of the prime military contractors for a dinner at the Pentagon. Mr. Augustine would memorably label this dinner the Last Supper.

Mr. Aspin and several other high-ranking Pentagon officials (including Mr. Carter, who was then an assistant secretary of defense) had brought the group together to send a tough message. With the Berlin Wall gone, the Soviet Union dissolved — and the Pentagon budget flat-lining — the Defense Department was no longer willing, as Mr. Augustine later recounted, “to pay the ballooning overhead” of all those contractors. In no uncertain terms, Mr. Aspin told the group that they needed to start merging.

“The rest is history,” Mr. Augustine later wrote. “General Electric Aerospace merged with Martin Marietta, which combined with Lockheed. McDonnell Douglas joined Boeing. Grumman joined Northrop. When the dust had cleared, there were only a few firms left standing.” Five, to be exact.

The Last Supper has become part of the lore of the military industry — though partly that’s because Mr. Aspin’s prediction about tighter Pentagon budgets turned out to be so wrong. “On the day George W. Bush took office,” said Loren B. Thompson, a well-known military consultant, “defense spending was around $300 billion.” Today it is more than double that amount, around $700 billion. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — not to mention the Pentagon’s voracious appetite for expensive weapons systems, and the lack of competition among the remaining contractors — have been a gold mine for the Big Five.

Not surprisingly, for most of the first decade of the 21st century, the stocks of these companies soared. But after peaking in 2008, they came crashing back to earth. Which, for the Pentagon, has turned out to be a problem. These companies need access to the capital markets, which is more difficult when their stocks are down. And the Pentagon simply can’t allow them get into serious financial difficulty; there are just too few of them. “What we can’t afford from the defense perspective is a sick industry,” said Jacques S. Gansler, a former procurement official for the Pentagon who teaches at the University of Maryland.

There is another problem, too. Having reached that $700 billion mark — which amounts to about half the discretionary spending in the entire budget — there is simply no way military spending is going to keep growing the way it has, not in these difficult economic times. (When the defense budget is released on Monday, it is expected to increase only slightly.) Recognizing that leaner times lay ahead, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made a speech last May acknowledging that Pentagon budgets were unlikely to rise substantially any time soon, and laid out a plan to create new efficiencies and increased competition among the companies.

Since then, several weapons systems have been canceled. Others are in jeopardy. Military contractors have been told that they have to become more efficient. New military contracts will try to impose some financial risk for the companies — so if there are huge cost overruns, the companies will have to absorb some of the pain. (On the other hand, companies are going to be allowed to pocket 50 percent of any savings they produce.)

Is it any wonder that the stocks dropped so precipitously, and that investors are nervous? Mr. Carter notwithstanding, taxpayers and shareholders are decidedly not in alignment: the tougher the Pentagon gets with its contractors, the better it is for taxpayers and the worse it is for shareholders. And yet it can’t get too tough, because if it is, the companies will start running into financial trouble, which means the stocks will sink even further and the companies will start to have trouble raising capital. This is the bind created by the Last Supper.

Now can you see why the Pentagon has taken to talking up the industry to the investment community? With one side of its mouth, the Pentagon is saying it is going to be more tough-minded in its approach to military contractors than ever before. But with the other side of its mouth, it is telling investors not to worry: the profits will be there, no matter what. Partly, this is political posturing; the Pentagon worries that the contractors and their allies in Congress will push back if the Defense Department doesn’t emphasize industry profit. Still, the Pentagon’s two-sided stance is not a terribly tenable position and requires much papering over. Hence Mr. Carter’s road show.

The sidling up to investors actually began last October, when the deputy defense secretary, William J. Lynn III, held a private meeting for about a dozen Wall Street analysts, laying out the Pentagon’s cost-cutting plans in astonishing detail. Indeed, according to Reuters, which uncovered the meeting, the analysts were sworn to secrecy. Although this would seem to violate, at the least, the spirit of transparency that Americans expect of market participants, notes of the meeting became public only after Reuters exposed it. (A military consultant named James McAleese published his notes on his Web site a few days after the Reuters story broke.)

Whatever the ethics of this meeting — and the Pentagon insists that nothing new was divulged during the session — it appears to have had an effect. If you look at the stock charts of the Big Five, you’ll see that they all started to rise around October. Imagine that.

In December, Mr. Carter and several other Pentagon officials attended a conference thrown by Credit Suisse and Aviation Week magazine. When I first spoke to Mr. McAleese, he casually mentioned that he had organized a private meeting for the Pentagon officials with institutional investors only. Then his cellphone went dead. Four days later, when I spoke to him again, he denied any such private meeting had taken place, and blamed his previous statement on the fact that “I hadn’t slept in three days.” (A Pentagon spokesman also denies a private meeting took place.)

Since then, the stocks have been booming. Maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on the Pentagon’s road show, but it is hard to imagine it’s had no effect at all.

Does the country need a healthy military industry? Of course. It also needs efficiently built weapons. But the Pentagon road show hardly seems like the right way to go about it. Mr. Carter and his minions might be better served taking steps to unwind some of the damage done by the Last Supper, perhaps by letting some of those midsize companies grow into prime contractors, or by taking steps to break up some of the modern behemoths.

But never mind. Next week, there’s an Aviation Week conference where Mr. Carter is supposed to speak. And there’s another conference a few weeks after that. I hear Mr. Carter will be there, too.

War Gains

Vermont’s Pentagon payout: What’s our bang for the buck? | Seven Days | By Ken Picard [11.10.04]

The Pentagon doesn’t discriminate between red states and blue states. The spoils of war come in just one color — green. Like it or not, military spending is on the rise, and the reelection of President Bush all but assures that the trend will continue. Between 1997 and 2003, the U.S. defense budget rose from $296 billion to $379 billion, not including supplemental appropriations; experts say it could surpass $500 billion in 2005. Next year, according to the World Policy Institute, the United States will spend about $1.15 billion per day on the military — or $11,000 per second.

A rising tide raises all ships, and the flood of money that’s flowing from the Pentagon to civilian defense contractors is lifting Vermont, too. Though pacifistic and peace-minded Vermonters prefer not to think about it, the U.S. Department of Defense funnels hundreds of millions of dollars each year into the state’s economy, buying goods and services, funding research and development, providing start-up grants to new high-tech firms, and ultimately, creating new jobs.

While Vermont can’t hope to compete with larger states like California and Texas in manufacturing or research-and-development money, this state often fares better than others of comparable size and population when vying for defense and homeland-security dollars. Largely, that’s due to the influence of Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who sits on the subcommittees on defense and homeland security. Leahy also wrote the rule that requires every state to get at least a minimum share of all homeland-security grants, which in Vermont totaled more than $51 million in 2004.

It’s not easy to measure the state’s exact slice of the Pentagon pie, since defense dollars can flow through a number of different channels, depending upon what the money is used for: research and development, small-business seed money, direct purchases, and so forth. But according to the Federal Procurement Data System, the Department of Defense is by far the biggest spender among government agencies with civilian contracts in Vermont. It drops more dollars on Vermont than four other big-budget federal agencies combined.

Not surprisingly, the military’s Vermont shopping list is growing. In fiscal year 2000, the Pentagon spent about $243 million on defense contracts here; by 2003, the number had jumped to $455 million. In comparison, the second largest federal spender in 2003 — the U.S. Department of Transportation — spent just $25.6 million in Vermont; Veterans Affairs spent $7.9 million.

But even a state-by-state breakdown of defense contracts doesn’t necessarily paint an accurate picture of where the money ends up or who benefits from it. For one thing, the state in which a company is headquartered — and thus where a contract may be listed — isn’t necessarily the state where the company or the majority of its employees or performs most of its work.

Goodrich Aerospace of Vergennes is an example. The company manufactures a wide range of high-tech electronic, fuel and utility systems for both military and civilian uses. Goodrich products can be found on everything from Boeing 727s to Black Hawk helicopters and F-16 fighter jets; their products have been on every manned space flight since the Apollo missions. Goodrich, which has been in Vermont for more than 50 years, currently employees about 700 people as engineers, assemblers, technicians and the like, and about 60 percent of its work is for the U.S. government. But because its parent company, Goodrich Corporation, is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, some state-by-state breakdowns don’t reveal the millions of dollars that Goodrich contributes to Vermont’s economy.

On the other side of that equation –that is, at the top of the local defense-spending list –is General Dynamics Armament Systems of Burlington, the state’s largest defense contractor. Between 2000 and 2003, General Dynamics’ armament division saw its Pentagon contracts jump from $14.7 million to $437 million.

But looks can be deceiving, explains Art Woolf, an associate professor of economics at the University of Vermont. With 550 employees, the company’s impact on the local economy is far less than it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the facility — then General Electric — employed nearly 3000 people in Burlington. Plus, Woolf notes, many of the government dollars probably pass right through Vermont to out-of-state plants or subcontractors that now do most of the company’s manufacturing.

A better way to assess the impact of defense dollars in Vermont is to look at employment, suggests Burlington policy analyst Doug Hoffer. How many local jobs do defense contractors provide and what do they pay? It’s also important to look at where these companies buy their supplies and how much business they do with other Vermont firms. “It’s never enough to say how much money goes through the company,” says Hoffer. “You have to say how much of it stays in Vermont, to be recycled in Vermont.”

In this respect, General Dynamics differs significantly from a smaller, less traditional defense contractor in Vermont: New England Woodcraft of Forest Dale. This family-owned and operated-company on the western edge of the Green Mountain National Forest manufactures institutional wood furniture — beds, desks, dressers — that is sold to colleges, universities and the U.S. military. New England Woodcraft has been around for more than 40 years and employs about 100 people full-time, but only began getting defense contracts a few years ago. In 2003, the company landed a $4.2 million contract to build furniture for military barracks. Today, defense contracts account for about half the company’s business.

But unlike General Dynamics, New England Woodcraft does all of its manufacturing in Vermont and buys all of its raw materials from local and regional sources. Moreover, when New England Woodcraft adds jobs, most of the workers are hired locally, not through national searches. New England Woodcraft’s manufacturing jobs don’t pay as well as the high-tech jobs at General Dynamics. But all of the company’s profits go to its Vermont owners, not Wall Street investors.

Another factor to consider is how defense dollars “multiply” in the local economy in terms of creating new jobs and earnings for other Vermont businesses. Hoffer cites U.S. Department of Commerce figures showing that two traditional defense-related categories — aircraft and missile engines, and ordnances and accessories — don’t multiply in the Vermont economy as well as other industries do.

Every $1 million increase in wood-furniture manufacturing in Vermont translates into $1.88 million in total economic output for the state. But every $1 million uptick in ordnance and accessories spending in Vermont translates into just $1.47 million for the Vermont economy.

The same holds true for job creation, Hoffer says. Commerce Department figures show that every $1 million increase in wood-furniture manufacturing adds 20 new jobs in the state. But a comparable $1 million increase in manufacturing of aircraft or missile engines translates into just 14 new jobs in Vermont; for ordinance and accessories manufacturing, 12 new jobs.

Other concerns are the stability of those jobs, and the company’s long-term employment prospects. Does the company produce goods and services that have both military and civilian applications, or does its business rely entirely on a war economy? As Hoffer points out, “if you’ve got one customer that’s 80 percent of your business, you’ve got a problem.”

Mine Safety Appliance employs 120 people at its helmet-manufacturing plant in Newport. In the last year, the Pittsburgh-based company secured three defense contracts totaling more than $78 million to produce more than 230,000 helmets for the U.S. Army. According to a company spokesman, defense contracts account for just 15 percent of the company’s global sales, but all the work done in Newport is for the U.S. military.

The Newport plant may seem vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of U.S. military operations overseas, but the helmets produced in Newport also have applications for homeland security and law-enforcement. And the U.S. Army always needs helmets, even in peacetime. Moreover, according to the company’s spokesman, the Newport production line can be converted to produce similar products, like fire helmets and riot gear.

Some defense contractors in Vermont produce more obvious “dual-use” technologies. The portable hospital units Mobile Medical of St. Johnsbury builds for the U.S. military have a wide range of domestic applications. Other contractors produce military goods that are needed even after conflicts end. For example, Applied Research Associates of South Royalton builds remote-controlled tractors that deactivate and remove undetonated landmines and other ordnances. For better or worse, this technology will likely be needed throughout the world for years to come.

Even after you’ve untangled the economic puzzle of local military contracts, that still leaves questions about the ethics of profiting from armed conflict. “If you’re asking me if defense spending is good for Vermont, I’ll say that it’s probably a regrettably good thing for Vermont,” Woolf concludes. “It’s like saying, is it good for a hardware store when I buy a lock to put on my door? Well, yeah, the hardware store is selling me a lock, but it’d sure be nice to live in a world where I don’t have to put a lock on my door.”

It Pays to Make War Machines

There is something that Wall Streeters and Captains of Industry pay close attention to and it is called The Spade Defense Index. The SDI is a blended index of “publicly traded companies that benchmarks the performance of companies involved with defense, homeland security, and space. The Index is composed of more than 50 firms…with representative…activities including: naval vessels, military aircraft, missiles and munitions, battlespace awareness, C4ISR, network centric warfare, homeland security including border security and biometric and screening systems, and space systems.” (http://www.spadeindex.com/aboutspadedefense.php)


Click on image for full size chart.

Two companies of prominence in The Index are the two leaders of our beloved F-35 project Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. As a whole The Index has grown by 247{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67} since its debut on December 30, 1997, which far exceeds gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S & P 500, which increased by 136 and 118{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67}, respectively, between then and now. So, it stands to reason that the forced arrayed against our mission are not simply military and political but financial as well given the volatility of conventional investments. There are certain industries that are “recession proof” and the Military Industrial Complex seems to be one of those industries. It not only is buffered against austerity and crisis but thrives in the milieau created after post-crisis Shock Therapy is implemented. In a more volatile world both climatic and economic more and more of Wall Street’s best and brightest will reallocated their money to the MIC and will most certainly push the creation of more and more F-35s as well as even more bloated MIC projects quixotic or not these types of projects socialize the risk and privatize the gain in the hands of people willing to leverage this country’s long-term viability at the expense of short-term wealth aggregation. The data does not lie. As Michael Bloomberg once said “In God we trust…Everyone else, bring data.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/nyregion/09mayor.html?scp=1&sq=bloomberg{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67}20in{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67}20god{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67}20we{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67}20trust{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67}20everyone{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67}20else{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67}20data&st=cse)

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