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.


Why the Pentagon Isn’t Happy With the F-35

By Anthony Capaccio
January 23, 2018

Efforts to improve the reliability of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 are “stagnant,” undercut by problems such as aircraft sitting idle over the last year awaiting spare parts from the contractor, according to the Pentagon’s testing office.

The availability of the fighter jet for missions when needed — a key metric — remains “around 50 percent, a condition that has existed with no significant improvement since October 2014, despite the increasing number of aircraft,” Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s new director of operational testing, said in an annual report delivered Tuesday to senior Pentagon leaders and congressional committees.

The F-35 section, obtained by Bloomberg News, outlined the status of the costliest U.S. weapons system as it’s scheduled to end its 16-year-old development phase this year. Starting in September, the program is supposed to proceed to intense combat testing that’s likely to take a year, an exercise that’s at least 12 months late already. Combat testing is necessary before the plane is approved for full-rate production — the most profitable phase for Lockheed.


Lockheed’s F-35 Fighters Will Cost $1.2 Trillion. After 16 Years, Only 50% Are Ready to Fly

January 24, 2018

Efforts to improve the reliability of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 are “stagnant,” undercut by problems such as aircraft sitting idle over the last year awaiting spare parts from the contractor, according to the Pentagon’s testing office.

The availability of the fighter jet for missions when needed — a key metric — remains “around 50 percent, a condition that has existed with no significant improvement since October 2014, despite the increasing number of aircraft,” Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s new director of operational testing, said in an annual report delivered Tuesday to senior Pentagon leaders and congressional committees.


F-35 problems

By Chris Pocock
February 2, 2018

The annual report from the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) again contains serious criticism of the F-35 program. Unresolved problems in the development, plus availability and reliability issues, are all of concern. “The operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains at a level below service expectations and is dependent on work-arounds that would not be acceptable in combat situations,” the report said.

There are “many open deficiencies” in the definitive Block 3F software, the report said. As DOT&E chief Gen. Bob Behler notes by way of introduction, the F-35’s combat effectiveness relies on software mission data files (MDFs) to identify and correlate threat versus friendly radar signals. But the Pentagon’s reprogramming laboratory that creates the MDFs “continues to operate with cumbersome software tools and outdated or incomplete hardware.” The report does note that this is the fault of the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), not Lockheed Martin.

Testing of the F-35’s weapons has revealed various deficiencies in both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, the report alleged. These include an aiming bias on the 25 mm internal gun on the F-35A.


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Had A Pretty Rough Week


OCTOBER 27, 2017

Whatever you might think of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it’s safe to say that the Joint Program Office hasn’t had a particularly good week. Reports of hypoxia, cyber security concerns, and the need for a major cost review followed the appearance of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit, detailing significant and increasingly expensive maintenance issues, which leaked its way to the press ahead of an official public release.

By far the biggest story is the GAO report, which Bloomberg was first to reveal on Oct. 23, 2017, paints a distinctly unflattering picture of the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps abilities in particular to keep their existing F-35s flyable, breaking down its findings into five core challenges. There’s a major delay in getting depot-level maintenance facilities up and running and a massive spare parts shortage. Beyond that, the Joint Program Office hadn’t even figured out what technical data it would need to support the aircraft going forward and the U.S. Navy and Marines didn’t have vital intermediate maintenance capabilities in place to support planned operational deployments. Lastly, there were serious concerns with the status of the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), the cloud-based computer network that is central to keeping the aircraft going on a day-to-day basis.


GAO recommends measures to US DoD for F-35

By Srivari Aishwarya

November 1, 2017

A review conducted by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended that the US Department of Defense (DoD) must address the challenges affecting readiness and cost transparency of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter sustainment programme.

The DoD is sustaining more than 250 F-35 aircraft, with plans to triple the fleet by the end of 2021.

The GAO found that the DoD’s capabilities to repair F-35 parts at military depots are six years behind schedule.


GAO report shows a rough week for the F-35

By Joseph Trevithick
October 27, 2017

Reports of hypoxia, cyber security concerns, and the need for cost review, followed the leak of highly critical review.

Whatever you might think of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it’s safe to say that the Joint Program Office hasn’t had a particularly good week. Reports of hypoxia, cyber security concerns, and the need for a major cost review followed the appearance of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit, detailing significant and increasingly expensive maintenance issues, which leaked its way to the press ahead of an official public release.

By far the biggest story is the GAO report, which Bloomberg was first to reveal on Oct. 23, 2017, paints a distinctly unflattering picture of the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps abilities in particular to keep their existing F-35s flyable, breaking down its findings into five core challenges. There’s a major delay in getting depot-level maintenance facilities up and running and a massive spare parts shortage. Beyond that, the Joint Program Office hadn’t even figured out what technical data it would need to support the aircraft going forward and the U.S. Navy and Marines didn’t have vital intermediate maintenance capabilities in place to support planned operational deployments.


Northrup’s fix to the F-35 and F-22 communications problem involves Global Hawk drones

By Valerie Insinna
August 23

 Northrop Grumman has a pitch to solve communications problems between the F-35 and F-22: Put a new radio on a Global Hawk drone and have it act like a translator between the two assets.

The U.S. Air Force’s two most advanced fighter jets, the F-35 and F-22, cannot currently transmit and receive information between each other because both use different secure data links: the Multifunction Advanced Data Link, or MADL, on the F-35; and the Intra-Flight Data Link, or IFDL, on the F-22. Both MADL and IFDL allow for stealthy communication that has a low probability of detection, but that information cannot be transferred to aircraft using different waveforms.

Northrop’s proposed fix involves integrating its Freedom 550 radio aboard the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV — which is already used as a communications node in the Middle East and elsewhere — thus providing a near-term way to allow both jets to talk to each other, said Mike Lyons, the company’s head of Global Hawk business development.

“We’ve got a solution that we’ve identified and made a pitch to the Air Force. We’re just waiting for the requirements to basically say: ‘Go do [that],’ ” he said during an interview at Northrop’s facilities in Palmdale, California.


F-35 altitude restrictions lifted at Luke Air Force Base

By Valerie Insinna
August 30

A wing commander at Luke Air Force Base on Wednesday lifted an altitude restriction on F-35 flights at the Arizona base, but Air Force investigators are no closer to understanding what prompted five incidents of pilot oxygen deprivation earlier this summer.

Between May 2 and June 8, five different Luke pilots experienced symptoms similar to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, while conducting F-35A training flights. That prompted Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, to order a pause in flight operations in June while officials from the Air Force and the F-35 Joint Program Executive Office analyzed each incident. Although they had hoped to find a common thread linking the incidents together, no root cause has emerged.


Pilot breathing issues prompt changes to F-35 mask and vest

By Lara Seligman 
September 18, 2017

The U.S. Air Force is making changes to F-35 flight equipment to make breathing easier for pilots, as the Pentagon continues searching for a root cause of five hypoxia-like cockpit incidents in the new fighter at an Arizona Air Force base…


F-35 flight suspension at Luke AFB ends; cause of hypoxia not found

By Perry Vandell
June 19, 2017

F-35s at Luke Air Force Base will scream across the sky again on Wednesday.

Officials at the Glendale base announced Monday that they will lift the flight suspension that grounded its 55 F-35s since June 9 after five pilots complained of hypoxia-like symptoms over a five-week span. Symptoms ranged from dizziness to tingling in their extremities.

The 11-day suspension was initially expected to last one day, but Luke Commander Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard extended it to give investigators more time.

Investigators have not found the specific cause of the problems, but they have narrowed down the possible causes.


Another pilot in Arizona experienced lightheadedness and breathing difficulties this week, Arizona Central reported Thursday.

July 14, 2017

Another pilot in Arizona experienced lightheadedness and breathing difficulties this week, Arizona Central reported Thursday.

The event took place on Monday, a spokesman told AZ Central, which is owned by USA Today. Last month, several squadrons of F-35 jets at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona, were grounded following multiple episodes of hypoxia in the month of May. The oxygen flow regulators weren’t fixed, investigators didn’t know why they had malfunctioned, but the military decided to continue flying the jets anyway while safety risks loomed.

Experts were tapped to help figure out what was going on but the service has next to no idea why hypoxia is still occurring among pilots in the $1.5 trillion jet program. “No specific root cause for the physiological episodes was identified during recent visits from experts and engineers from the Joint Program Office, Lockheed Martin, the Air Force Research Laboratory,” the US Air Force 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office said in June.


Navy presents new F-35 helmet display videos and flight test dangers

By Tyler Rogoway
July 10, 2017

Seminar by F-35 testers details tense nighttime carrier vertical landing that almost went wrong and the breaking off of a F-35B’s refueling probe tip during tanker trials.

A video from Flight Test Safety Committee’s conference early last May offers a fascinating insight into the F-35 test program. A talk put on by NAVAIR and presented by the F-35 Government Flight Test Director, Lt. Col. D. Tom Fields, goes into detail about a couple of challenges the program has faced over the last 12 months, and it’s is presented in a totally frank and unafraid manner. The open tone of the address is downright refreshing considering the usual one-sided spin we get from the F-35 Program Office and its corporate partners.


Force Spokesman: F-35A Hypoxia Incidents Date To 2011

By Oriana Pawlyk
June 15, 2017

More than a dozen Air Force F-35 pilots experienced oxygen deprivation symptoms between 2011 and this year, the service disclosed Thursday as it investigates a steady uptick of hypoxia-related incidents at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

It marked the first time many of the cases had been disclosed publicly.

In a statement Thursday, Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff said that since April 2, 2011, there “have been 15 reported F-35A in-flight and ground physiological events.”

“Five of those events were reported by Luke Air Force Base pilots between May 2 and June 8th, 2017,” Graff said in an email. “In all cases, pilots were able to safely recover the aircraft via established procedures.”


F-35A engine fire at US Air Force base sparked by strong tailwinds

By Valerie Insinna
July 12, 2017

U.S. Air Force investigators have found that last September’s F-35A mishap at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, was indeed an uncontained engine fire — albeit one started because of tailwinds present during engine start, not deficiencies with the aircraft’s Pratt and Whitney F135 engine.

According to a U.S. Air Force accident investigation board, or AIB, report signed May 9 by the board’s president and obtained by Defense News, the engine fire started after tailwinds forced hot air into the inlet of the jet’s integrated power pack. A chain of factors, such as insufficient torque and slow engine rotation speed, caused the F-35 to continuously supply fuel to its engine at an increased rate.

“During this mishap, however, the fire became uncontained due to the increased amount of fuel added while the engine rotation speed was slowing,” the report stated. “Once the uncontained fire started coming out of the aircraft exhaust, the tailwind carried it rapidly along the exterior surfaces of the jet.”

The pilot escaped from the aircraft but sustained burns to his head, neck and face.

The service is still evaluating how much it will cost to repair the F-35A involved in the mishap, which was assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, and involved in a training flight at Mountain Home when the fire occurred. However, damage to the plane is estimated to amount to at least $17 million.

F-35s Grounded at Luke AFB After Pilots Report Hypoxia-Like Symptoms

By Oriana Pawlyk
June 9, 2017

The Air Force has grounded all F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, after pilots complained of hypoxia-related issues, officials said Friday.

“The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, canceled local flying operations today for F-35A Lightning II aircraft due to a series of five incidents in which pilots have experienced hypoxia-like symptoms,” Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff said in an email.

A total of 48 aircraft and 49 pilots are affected by the temporary stand-down, according to Maj. Rebecca Heyse, a spokeswoman for the base.

“Flying operations are planned to resume Monday, June 12,” she said in an email.

The incident is “limited to Luke” at this time, meaning other bases aren’t affected by the order, Graff said.

Since May 2, five F-35A pilots have experienced “physiological incidents while flying,” according to the statement from Heyse. In each case, the aircraft’s backup oxygen system kicked in and the pilot followed the correct procedures to land safely, it stated.


F-35 flights halted at Ariz. base over pilot health concerns

By Perry Vandell
June 10, 2017

The Air Force on Friday stopped flying F-35 fighter jets at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale after a series of incidents in which pilots reported symptoms of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation.

Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff said the temporary halt followed five separate in-flight incidents since May 2. Graff said in each case, the airplane’s backup oxygen system worked as designed and the pilot was able to land the plane safely.

“The Air Force takes these physiological incidents seriously, and our focus is on the safety and well-being of our pilots,” said Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, 56th Fighter Wing commander at Luke. “We are taking the necessary steps to find the root cause of these incidents.”

Maj. Rebecca Heyse, a chief public affairs officer for Luke, said each of the five pilots’ symptoms were slightly different, from dizziness and disorientation to tingling in their extremities.


F-35 grounded indefinitely at Luke Air Force Base over hypoxia reports

By Perry Vandell
June 12, 2017

Luke Air Force Base officials announced Monday that flight operations will be indefinitely suspended as its team of engineers and maintenance specialists continue to investigate the rash of hypoxia-like symptoms some pilots reported.

The high-priced jets were grounded Friday at the Glendale base after five separate in-flight incidents since May 2 in which pilots reported symptoms from dizziness and disorientation to tingling in their extremities.

Luke spokeswoman Maj. Rebecca Heyse said there aren’t any leads yet, but new information has streamed in as an investigative “action team” worked over the weekend.


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.


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.


Achieving Full Combat Capability with the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is at Substantial Risk

By Michael Gilmore
August 9, 2016

Achieving Full Combat Capability with the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is at Substantial Risk

While the Air Force recently declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with “basic”
Block 3i capabilities, most of the limitations and deficiencies for the F-35A with Block 3i
discussed in my FY15 Annual Report and Congressional testimonies remain and will adversely
affect mission effectiveness and suitability. In fact, the program is actually not on a path toward
success, but instead on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities for which
the Department is paying almost $400 billion by the scheduled end of System Development and
Demonstration (SDD) in 2018. If Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) were
conducted today on the aircraft in the Block 3i configuration – with which the Air Force recently
declared IOC -the system would likely be evaluated as not effective and not suitable across the
required mission areas and against currently fielded threats. If used in combat, the F-35 in the
Block 3i configuration, which is equivalent in capabilities to Block 2B, will need support to
locate and avoid modem threats, acquire targets, and engage formations of enemy fighter aircraft
due to outstanding performance deficiencies and limited weapons carriage available (i.e., two
bombs and two air-to-air missiles).


Mr President, Cancel the F-35

By Mike Fredenburg
January 6, 2017

Our incoming president’s willingness to boldly challenge the status quo is arguably the main reason he was elected. And no defense project is more representative of a disastrous status quo than the 20-year-old Joint Strike Fighter program — the F-35. The F-35 program showcases all that is wrong about our military’s vendor-dominated, crony-capitalist procurement system. Unless dealt with decisively, its massive cost and its lack of capability will have a dramatically negative impact on our military’s effectiveness for decades to come. Therefore, President-elect Trump’s willingness to publicly call out this $1.5 trillion program is good news.


The F-35 is a $1.4 Trillion National Disaster

By Dan Grazier
March 31, 2017

The F-35 still has a long way to go before it will be ready for combat. That was the parting message of Michael Gilmore, the now-retired Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, in his last annual report.

The Joint Strike Fighter Program has already consumed more than $100 billion and nearly 25 years. Just to finish the basic development phase will require at least an extra $1 billion and two more years. Even with this massive investment of time and money, Gilmore told Congress, the Pentagon and the public, “the operational suitability of all variants continues to be less than desired by the Services.”


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (DOD 2016 report)

The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program Office (JPO) acknowledged in 2016 that schedule pressure exists for
completing System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and starting Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) by August 2017, the planned date in JPO’s Integrated Master Schedule. In an effort to stay on schedule, JPO plans to reduce or truncate planned developmental testing (DT) in an effort to minimize delays and close out SDD as soon as possible. However, even with this risky, schedule-driven approach, multiple problems and delays make it clear that the program will not be able to start IOT&E with full combat capability until late CY18 or early CY19, at the soonest.


Head of US military kit-testing slams F-35, says it’s scarcely fit to fly

By Richard Chirgwin
April 3, 2017

Now-retired Dr Michael Gilmore, until recently the Director of Test and Evaluation for the US military, has published his final evaluation of the F-35 program, and it’s a treat.

In his parting report (PDF), deliciously dated April 1*, Gilmore details a host of issues remaining with the US$391 billion-and-counting project, with everything from its combat-readiness to its wing design under the microscope.

“The Services have designated 276 deficiencies in combat performance as “critical to correct” in Block 3F, but less than half of the critical deficiencies were addressed with attempted corrections in 3FR6”, the report states.

Even Gilmore’s most optimistic scenario regarding the aircraft’s Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) is gloomy: “the program will not be ready to start IOT&E until late CY18, at the soonest, or more likely early CY19. In fact, IOT&E could be delayed to as late as CY20, depending on the completion of required modifications to the IOT&E aircraft.”


What went wrong with Lockheed’s F-35?

By Michael Hughes
June 14, 2017

The F-35 was billed as a fighter jet that could do almost everything the U.S. military desired, serving the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy — and even Britain’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy — all in one aircraft design. It’s supposed to replace and improve upon several current — and aging — aircraft types with widely different missions. It’s marketed as a cost-effective, powerful multi-role fighter airplane significantly better than anything potential adversaries could build in the next two decades. But it’s turned out to be none of those things.

Officially begun in 2001, with roots extending back to the late 1980s, the F-35 program is nearly a decade behind schedule, and has  failed to meet many of its original design requirements. It’s also become the most expensive defense program in world history, at about $1.5 trillion before the fighter is  phased out in 2070.


Air Force grounds F-35 squadron after oxygen deprivation issues

By Ellen Mitchell
June 9, 2017

The Air Force has “temporarily” grounded a squadron of F-35s fighter jets at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona after five pilots reported symptoms consistent with oxygen deprivation, the service said Friday.

The 56th Fighter Wing cancelled local flying operations for its F-35A Lightning II fighters after five incidents since May 2 where pilots experienced symptoms similar to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation.

In every incident the F-35’s back-up oxygen system kicked in and pilots were able to land the plane safely, the Air Force said.

The Air Force has “temporarily” grounded a squadron of F-35s fighter jets at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona after five pilots reported symptoms consistent with oxygen deprivation, the service said Friday.

The 56th Fighter Wing cancelled local flying operations for its F-35A Lightning II fighters after five incidents since May 2 where pilots experienced symptoms similar to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation.

In every incident the F-35’s back-up oxygen system kicked in and pilots were able to land the plane safely, the Air Force said.


Government watchdog: F-35 will take millions more, months longer than expected

By Alex Lockie
April 24, 2017

The Government Accountability Office released a report on Mondaywarning the Department of Defense against funding further software updates for the already $400 billion F-35 program until the current software becomes operational.

The F-35 is already operational with the Air Force and Marine Corps, but it runs a limited version of its software, called the 3i block, which only provides 89{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67} of the code required for full warfighting potency.


F-35 Continues to Stumble

By Dan Grazier
March 30, 2017

The F-35 still has a long way to go before it will be ready for combat. That was the parting message of Dr. Michael Gilmore, the now-retired Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, in his last annual report.

The Joint Strike Fighter Program has already consumed more than $100 billion and nearly 25 years. Just to finish the basic development phase will require at least an extra $1 billion and two more years. Even with this massive investment of time and money, Dr. Gilmore told Congress, the Pentagon, and the public, “the operational suitability of all variants continues to be less than desired by the Services.”


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.

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.


F-35 software delayed

By Gareth Corfield
Jan. 12, 2017

Key software for the troubled F-35 fighter jet has been repeatedly delayed, causing problems for the British armed forces as they wait for Americans to iron out the bugs.

The F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) is the heart of the support offering bundled with the F-35 by its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

The latest version of ALIS – version 2.0.2 – has been delayed by at least six months and counting, according to the US Department of Defense’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), and units are instead stuck with version

“It has yet to successfully complete testing and likely will not be fielded until early 2017,” according to the F-35 section of DOT&E’s annual report [PDF, 62 pages] to the US Congress. Version 2.0.2 will allow military personnel, rather than engine manufacturers and current maintenance contractors Pratt & Whitney, to read and act upon engine health data, but has not yet been deployed.


F-35 Combat Deployment Still Years Off

By Valerie Insinna

The Airforce will deploy the F-35A to fight the Islamic State group in the Middle East in the “not too distant future,” potentially a few years down the road, the outgoing head of Air Combat Command said Feb. 24.


Marine Corps F-35 Caught Fire During Training Flight

By Hope Hodge Seck
November 7, 2016

The Marine Corps is investigating after an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter based out of Beaufort, South Carolina, recently caught fire in mid-air, Military.com has learned.

The incident happened Oct. 27 at Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, a fleet replacement squadron for the Marine Corps consisting of 20 F-35B aircraft. One of the aircraft experienced a fire in the weapons bay while conducting a training mission over Beaufort, 1st Lt. John Roberts, a spokesman for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, told Military.com.

“The aircraft landed safely and there were no injuries sustained,” he said. “An investigation is ongoing and we will provide updates as they are available.”

No estimate of damage caused by the fire was available. The incident was listed by the Naval Safety Center as a Class A mishap, meaning damage totalled $2 million or more on the $100 million aircraft.


What Keeps the F-35 Alive

By David Swanson
November 2, 2016

Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.

Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it’d be just fine.

Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn’t safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.


The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them

By Dan Grazier
November 18, 2016

When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots take to the air in coming years, not only will their plane not be suitable for combat, it won’t even be fully developed.

Indeed, performance in multiple essential mission areas will be “unacceptable,” according to the Pentagon’s top weapon testing official.

In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, warns that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office has decided to cut short the F-35’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met.


Pentagon Memo: F-35 Capabilities in Jeopardy

By Dan Grazier
November 16, 2016

When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots take to the air in coming years, not only will their plane not be suitable for combat, it won’t even be fully developed. Indeed, performance in multiple essential mission areas will be “unacceptable,” according to the Pentagon’s top weapon testing official.

In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Dr. Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), warns that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JPO) has decided to cut short the F-35’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met.

Truncating Development Breeds Further Cost Overruns

Contractors, the JPO, and Pentagon acquisition officials have failed for years to deliver on their grandiose promises of program success.  Now the program appears to be out of money, with lots of development testing and re-engineering left to be done. Instead of admitting to these failures, F-35 program officials are kicking the development can into the future by arbitrarily cutting short this process now with the intention of eating into funds set aside for operational testing and production later.

Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Dr. Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”


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.


F-35 still falls short

By Anthony Capaccio
August 24, 2016

A week after the Air Force declared its version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet ready for limited combat operations, the Pentagon’s top tester warned that the U.S. military’s costliest weapons program is still riddled with deficiencies.

“In fact the program is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the aircraft’s full capabilities, “for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion by the scheduled end” of its development in 2018, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing, said in an Aug. 9 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Achieving full combat capability with the Joint Strike Fighter is at substantial risk” of not occurring before development is supposed to end and realistic combat testing begins, he said of the F-35.


The F-35 may never be ready for combat

By Dan Grazier & Mandy Smithberger
September 9, 2016

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive procurement program in Pentagon history. It’s been plagued by schedule delays, gross cost overruns, and a slew of underwhelming performance reviews. Last month the Air Force declared its variant “ready for combat,” and most press reports lauded this as a signal that the program had turned a corner. But a memo issued from the Pentagon’s top testing official, based largely upon the Air Force’s own test data, showed that the Air Force’s declaration was wildly premature.

Dr. Michael Gilmore’s latest memorandum is damning. The F-35 program has derailed to the point where it “is actually not on a path toward success, but instead on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion.” The 16-page memo, first reported by Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg and then by others, details just how troubled this program is: years behind schedule and failing to deliver even the most basic capabilities taxpayers, and the men and women who will entrust their lives to it, have been told to expect.


Air Force Grounds F-35s

By Ryan Browne
September 17, 2016

The US Air Force said Friday it has grounded 10 of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, just over a month after they were declared “combat ready.”

The decision affecting the most expensive weapons system ever was made “due to the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” the Air Force said in a statement, describing the action as a temporary pause in flight operations.”
The faulty cooling lines affected a total of 57 aircraft, the statement said. Only 15 of those planes had been fielded with the remainder still on the production line and will be fixed there.
The plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has delivered 108 F-35As. The Air Force plans to buy 1,763 of the jets.

Air Force halts production of 60 F-35s

September 16, 2016

The United States Air Force has halted production of nearly 60 of its F-35 fighter jets.

It comes after the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in cooling lines inside some of the planes’ fuel tanks. Most of the jets affected were still being built, only 15 had been completed, with 10 being called “combat ready.” Manufacturer Lockheed Martin says they are working to quickly return jets to flying status.


Achieving full combat capability for F-35 at risk

September 12, 2016

Barely a week after the US Air Force declared Aug. 3 that its F-35A fighter was ready for combat, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester warned the aircraft is “not effective and not suitable across the required mission areas and against currently fielded threats.”

In an Aug. 9 memo, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), J. Michael Gilmore, detailed the aircraft’s faults, recounted the program’s lack of progress, and warned it is fast running out of money, which will compromise attempts to fix it in time for the Operational Test & Evaluation, presently scheduled to begin sometime in 2018.

The memo, first disclosed on Aug. 24 by Bloomberg News, was addressed to Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition; Deborah Lee James, the Air Force Secretary, and General David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff.

The US Air Force and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) shrugged off this latest warning as they have previous ones, by claiming the report mentions deficiencies that are, or are being, fixed.


F35 JSF stealth fails again

June 21, 2016

The American company given a contract to provide the biggest weapons purchased in
Australia’s history has launched a public relations offensive. the controversial
F35 jet fighters have been played by big costs and big delays.

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.


Noise information delayed

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.


Could network failure ground the F-35

By Lara Seligman
May 16, 2016

The F-35 joint program office and a top government watchdog are butting heads about a key question for the joint strike fighter: whether or not the fifth-generation plane can fly if disconnected from a key logistics system.


F-35 bashing

March 21, 2016

In the budget proposal for fiscal 2017, the Air Force finally relented, and said it would keep the plane on board until 2022, though there are plans to retire large numbers of the aircraft in 2018 and 2019.

Welsh said he is in a difficult position, and being forced to argue for retiring the A-10 despite not wanting to do it. Yet the lack of funding and stress on airmen is forcing his hand, and the Air Force must shift resources over to newer fifth-generation planes, he told the committee.

McCain also criticized the budget proposal for the Air Force, saying that it places “an unnecessary and dangerous burden on the backs of our airmen.”


Flyoff the A-10 versus the F-35

May 16, 2016

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is renewing her fight to keep the A-10 out of the boneyard. She wants to make retirement of the legacy attack plane contingent on a “flyoff” with the fifth-generation F-35.

McSally, a retired Air Force colonel with hundreds of hours flying the A-10 in Iraq and Afghanistan, spearheaded language in the House’s version of the fiscal 2017 defense policy bill that would tie the service’s A-10 retirement plan to a side-by-side comparisontest with the F-35.

“The official part of our proposal is to actually do a test, not just sit around drinking coffee saying: ‘This is what we think,’ ” McSally, R-Ariz., said in a recent interview.

“This is an important part of the official evaluation so that we can have a data-based, assessment-based discussion as to what to do next.”


One in three F-35 flights requires system reboot

By Lara Seligman
May 9, 2016

F-35 critics often point to the Pentagon’s decision to start building the fifth-generation fighter before design and testing is complete as the root of the program’s problems. Even now, as the Air Force prepares to declare its F-35A jets operational this year, so-called “concurrency” remains an obstacle.

These ongoing challenges were on full display at Edwards last week during a development test flight of an Air Force F-35A, when the jet’s team was on the ground troubleshooting for nearly two hours before the aircraft finally launched.

The problem, which revolves around a glitch in the next increment of F-35 software, is a recurring one that causes the plane’s systems to shut down and have to be rebooted – sometimes even mid-flight.

Officials say development test pilots here have trouble booting up their jets about once out of every three flights, but downplayed the problem, pointing out that the goal of test flights is indeed to test, find problems, and work to fix them.


Pentagon delays F-35 testing due to software glitch

May 25, 2016

Despite the ongoing risks that the Lockheed Martin fighter jets will crash to the earth, the Pentagon plans to spend an additional $16 billion on another batch of F-35s.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon finally acknowledged that the beleaguered F-35 fighter jet will not be ready for its final test phase until 2018 at the earliest, the latest in a series of setbacks for the expensive next-generation aircraft.

The last major test period before full-rate production, the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) examines whether an aircraft possesses the requisite combat specifics, and ensures that a jet can fly operational missions as intended.

Due to software problems in the F-35, Pentagon officials have postponed the test date for six months past the August 2017 target date, out of an abundance of concern that the jet will not be ready. This is the second major delay in flight-readiness testing, placing the fighter jet an entire year behind schedule.


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.


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

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.


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.”


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.


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.’


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.”


All the ways the F-35 is screwed up, according to the Pentagon’s top weapons tester

By Dan Lamothe
February 4, 2016

The Pentagon’s top weapons tester has condemned aspects of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in a new report, raising questions about the $1.5-trillion effort’s ability to meet its already slipped production schedule, synthesize information on the battlefield and keep aircraft available to fly.

The 82-page report was distributed to Congress last month, and released publicly this week. It was completed by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation. He reports directly to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, and carries out independent assessments for both Carter and members of Congress.

The report raises serious questions about whether the Pentagon should initiate a three-year “block buy” of up to 450 fighter jets beginning in 2018, something that was floated last year in the Defense Department as a way to save money. Doing so would drive down the cost of each single-seat, single engine aircraft and increase fielding of the jet to both the U.S. military and international partners like Australia and Britain, defense officials said.


What it’s really like to fly the F-35

By Ian Greenhalgh
April 19, 2016

You’ve heard what the critics have to say, now let’s see what the pilots think

You must have heard about the F-35 debacle by now, a sad tale of huge cost overruns and an aircraft that has been called ‘the worst thing the USA ever procured’ by some commentators.

Aside from the obvious corruption involved in the F-35’s troubled development (is anything involving John McCain ever anything other than corrupt) and the resultant incredible sums of money spent on the project, there is the very real danger that the USA mind find itself armed with an aircraft that simply doesn’t work.

Whether it’s the gun that won’t fire or the ejector seat that is lethal to pilots that aren’t overweight, the tales of woe are endless. Even before the aircraft had entered service the jokes were well known:

How many F-35s does it take to change a lightbulb?

Three: One to change the criteria of changing a lightbulb, the second to undergo maintenance, and the third to tell the press the lightbulb has been changed.


F-35 critical software not all that critical

By Dan Grazier
April 20, 2016

Last summer, F-35 program officer Lt. Gen. Bogdan said the F-35’s logistics systemwas “the brains and blood of operating this weapons system.” Despite many fixes, the aircraft’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) is so flawed that government auditors believe the computer system may not be deployable. These problems may alsodelay the Air Force’s declaration of Initial Operational Capability.  And now, in a surprising twist, General Bogdan is saying ALIS is not really critical after all, insisting the F-35 can fly without it for 30 days.

F-35 supporters enjoy telling people how the plane is a “flying computer,” as if that alone makes it worth the hundreds of billions of dollars spent so far. Lockheed Martin goes one step farther, calling it a “supercomputer” in its own promotional materials.


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.


Glitch could ground F-35

By Tyler Dumont
April 25,2016

The F-35 is called the most ambitious and expensive weapon system in the Department of Defense’s history, costing hundreds of billions.

Eighteen of the planes are set to land in Vermont in just three years.

At the core of the F-35 is a software system known as ALIS, essentially, the aircraft’s brain and just as important as the engine and airframe.

“Quite simply, if you don’t have a functioning ALIS, you really don’t have an F-35, the way it’s designed,” said Cary Russell, the director of defense capabilities and management with the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The Autonomic Logistics Information Systems monitors almost everything, from engine diagnostics to navigation and target data coming from servers that are not on board.

Now, a report from a federal watchdog group says there’s a chance the connection to those external servers could fail, with no backup.


McCain: F-35 is both a scandal and a tragedy

By Ryan Browne
April 27, 2016

Sen. John McCain slammed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s troubled history Tuesday, saying it “has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance.”

The development of the Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth-generation stealth jet, has been beset by spiraling costs and schedule delays. The program’s price tag is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes — almost twice the initial estimate.

GAO report cites continued need for F-35 oversight

Apr 26, 2016

Development of New Capabilities Requires Continued Oversight

What GAO Found

Although the estimated F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) program acquisition costs have decreased since 2014, the program continues to face significant affordability challenges. The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to begin increasing production and expects to spend more than $14 billion annually for nearly a decade on procurement of F-35 aircraft. Currently, the program has around 20 percent of development testing remaining, including complex mission systems software testing, which will be challenging. At the same time, the contractors that build the F-35 airframes and engines continue to report improved manufacturing efficiency and supply chain performance.

DOD plans to manage F-35 modernization as part of the existing program baseline and is exploring the use of a single contract to procure multiple lots of future aircraft. Both courses of action have oversight implications. DOD has begun planning and funding significant new development work to add to the F-35’s capabilities. Known as Block 4, the funding needed for this effort is projected to be nearly $3 billion over the next 6 years (see figure below), which would qualify it as a major defense acquisition program in its own right.


F-35 Fails Testing

By Clay Dillow
April 28, 2016

Software glitches continue to dog the nation’s newest fighter jet.

Five of six Air Force F-35 fighter jets were unable to take off during a recent exercise due to software bugs that continue to hamstring the world’s most sophisticated—and most expensive—warplane.

During a mock deployment at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, just one of the $100 million Lockheed Martin LMT 0.63{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67} F-35s was able to boot its software successfully and get itself airborne during an exercise designed to test the readiness of the F-35, FlightGlobal reports. Nonetheless, the Air Force plans to declare its F-35s combat-ready later this year.


Military Admits Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is F**ked

By David Axe
March 17, 2016

Officials are finally admitting the F-35 fighter has turned into a nightmare—but it’s too late to stop the $400 billion program now.

Way back in the early 2000s, the U.S. military had a dream. To develop a new “universal” jet fighter that could do, well, pretty much everything that the military asks its different fighters to do.

But the dream of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter turned into a nightmare. The program is six years behind schedule and tens of billions of dollars over budget. And now, 16 years after the JSF prototypes took off for their first flights, top officials are finally owning up to the trauma the $400 billion fighter program has inflicted on America’s finances and war readiness.

In a remarkable period, beginning in February and lasting several weeks, senior officers and high-ranking bureaucrats finally publicly copped to the warplane program’s fundamental failures.


U.S. military officials consider alternatives if troubled F-35 program can’t move forward

March 23, 2016

U.S. military officials reportedly are considering alternatives that include restarting the F-22 advanced tactical fighter line or developing advanced versions of the F-15 or F/A-18 combat aircraft if the F-35 joint strike fighter program fails. The National Interest reports.


F-35 engines have recurring flaws

By Anthony Capaccio
March 31, 2016

United Technologies Corp.’s performance building engines for the F-35 fighter has been beset by “recurring manufacturing quality issues,” according to the Defense Department’s annual report on its costliest weapons program.

The contractor’s Pratt & Whitney military aircraft unit met the goal for delivering engines last year, but quality deficiencies in “turbine blades and electronic control systems resulted in maintenance activity to remove suspect hardware from the operational fleet,” according to the latest Selected Acquisition Report sent to Congress and obtained by Bloomberg News.


F-35 is still a shocking disaster

By Charles P. Pierce
March 30, 2016

It’s been a while since we checked in with the F-35 Flying Swiss Army Knife, the airplane that ate the federal budget. Let’s see if they’ve gotten all the bugs out of the system yet.


“While Pratt & Whitney has implemented a number of design changes that have resulted in significant reliability improvements, the F-35A and F-35B engines are still at about 55 percent and 63 percent, respectively, of where the program expected them to be at this point,” said the report by the Government Accountability Office. The F-35A is the Air Force version of the plane, and the F-35B is the Marine Corps version, which is capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings. There is also an F-35C Navy version designed for carrier operations.


F-35 radar software fails in the air

By Richard Chirgwin
March 8, 2016

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has run into yet another software bug, according to a report in IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

The glitch is in the software that operates the fighter’s radar. During flight, Jane’s reckons, the radar software becomes unstable.

The report quotes US Air Force Major General Jeffrey Harrigian as saying “What would happen is [pilots would] get a signal that says either a radar degrade or a radar fail – something that would force us to restart the radar”.

He said the problem was discovered in 2015, and that Lockheed-Martin is now running a fix through its test labs, with a patch due this month.

The USAF believes the glitch won’t get in the way of it reaching “initial operational capability” for the F-35 between August and December this year.

The F-35’s software has been raised again in Australia courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Background Briefing program over the weekend.


F-35 remains plagued by deficiencies

By Jim W. Dean
Feb. 5, 2016

[ Jim Dean’s Note: Yes, I know this is an old story, but with an important new twist, in that the continued deficiencies of the F-35 are detailed by the Pentagon’s own testing expert. This is no anti-war, America haters bashing the program. For the program to be stopped from more billions being wasted on this disaster, it will take a coalition of inside and outside people to do it.

And work needs to get started, scrapping what we have, and frankly trying to copy what the Russian have, if they can do it — a modular build where upgrades, especially hardware, can be added later without a ground-up rebuild, which the defense contractors prefer, as it is hugely more expensiveJim W. Dean ]


– First published  …  February 05,  2016 –

The US Defense Department has warned that the highly advanced F-35 fighter jet remains plagued by dangerous problems that will further complicate the most expensive weapons project in history.

The report, which was prepared by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, raises serious questions about whether the US military should risk committing itself to buying billions of dollars of the F-35s before they have demonstrated they are fit for combat.

The fifth-generation stealth warplanes, which are being built in three different versions by Lockheed Martin Corp, will form the backbone of the us military’s future fighter fleet.

In the latest blow to the program, engineers uncovered numerous technical problems during extensive testing of the newest versions of the F-35, the Pentagon report found, adding to a list of issues including software bugs, technical glitches and cost overruns.


F-35 still failing to impress

By Dan Grazier & Mandy Smithberger
March 7, 2016

The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) recently released a scathing assessment of the F-35 program as part of his annual report. Buried inside 48 pages of highly technical language is a gripping story of mismanagement, delayed tests, serious safety issues, a software nightmare, and maintenance problems crippling half the fleet at any given time.

The report makes clear just how far the F-35 program still has to go in the development process. Some of the technical challenges facing the program will take yea
rs to correct, and as a result, the F-35’s operationally demonstrated suitability for combat will not be known until 2022 at the earliest. While rumors that the program office would ask for a block buy of nearly 500 aircraft in the FY 2017 budget proposal did not pan out, officials have indicated they may make such a request next year. The DOT&E report clearly shows any such block commitments before 2022 are premature.


Australian Investigative Report on JSF F35

by Jonathan Green
Mar. 6, 2016

Is the Joint Strike Fighter the right plane for Australia?

The JSF is not terribly fast and it’s not terribly agile, and the high tech helmet could take the pilots head off if there is a mishap. Sarah Dingle investigates the over budget and over due Joint Strike Fighter


Danish pilots talk about the F-35

By Solomon
Feb. 25, 2016

Listen to what the pilots say about the F-35? How about this retired LTCol from the Danish Air Force!

via Australian Senate Submission on the F-35 (Link and item 35).

“We also simulated Joint Strike Fighter against Russian fighter aircraft where we flew two against two.
In the forenoon I and the Danish test pilot was flying Joint Strike Fighters against two Russian fighters. Inthe afternoon we swapped, so we flew Russian fighter aircraft against the Joint Strike Fighter.
In the afternoon the first thing the test pilot and I noticed was that the Russian fighters was not loaded with the best air-to-air missiles as the Russians have in real life. We therefore asked about getting some better. It was denied us. We two pilots complained but it was not changed.
My test pilot and I decided in our simulated Russian combat aircraft to fly “line abreast”, but with 25 nautical miles distance. Then at least one of us could with radar look into the side of the Joint Strike Fighter and thus view it at long distance. The one who “saw” the Joint Strike Fighter could then link the radar image to the other. Then missiles could be fired at long distance at the Joint Strike Fighter.
It was also denied us, although we protested this incomprehensible disposition.
It was now quite clear to us that with the directives and emotional limitations simulations would in no waygive a true and fair view of anything. On the other hand, it would show that the Joint Strike Fighter was a good air defense fighter, which in no way can be inferred from the simulations. We spoke loudly and clearly that this way was manipulating with the Joint Strike Fighter air defence capability.


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.”


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.


The Comanche and the Albatross

By Col Michael W. Pietrucha, USAF
May-June 2014

The Air Force intended eventually to replace much of the post-Vietnam fighter fleet with the F-35A. This stealthy aircraft possesses advanced technology and was intended to be no more expensive than the aircraft it was designed to supplant. The Air Force sought to buy 1,763 F-35As—the number required to replace every F-16, A-10, and F-117 then in service. Rather than an affordable, capable fighter aircraft operational in large numbers by 2015, the F-35 continues to arrive late and cost more than anticipated. Program delays, unmet performance requirements, and spiraling costs have recently run full tilt into an austere budgetary environment. Budgetary realities should serve as an impetus to reexamine the Air Force’s participation in the F-35 program and the future of the fighter force.


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.”


Pentagon postpones retirement of A-10s

By John Sowell

Feb. 26, 2016

The Islamic State unwittingly forced the U.S. Air Force to continue flying one of ISIS’ fiercest enemies: the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The Air Force was all set to retire the jet, known affectionately among its crews as the Warthog. Then it was pressed into service last year against the Islamic State in the Mideast, where it drew rave reviews.

“I saw some of the A-10s that are flying bombing missions against ISIL (the Pentagon’s term for Islamic State) when I was at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey last December,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told members of a House appropriations subcommittee during testimony Thursday on the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

The A-10, Carter told the committee, will continue flying until at least 2022.


F-35 still a train wreck

Feb. 5, 2016

Now that votes are finally being cast, most Hot Air content is going to be revolving around the ongoing campaign, but it’s important we don’t lose sight of issue details that could wind up affecting the race, especially in areas where traditional Republican stances could leave one or more candidates very, very vulnerable.

National defense is a perennial Republican running point. More troops, more ships, more planes, more dollars is pretty much the mantra of every candidate. The worrisome story of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) – a.k.a. the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II – has been addressed here before by Jazz Shaw (July 1, 2015 and August 15, 2015), and since then, has gotten worse, not better. The F-35 is the most expensive defense acquisition project ever with projected costs exceeding $1.3 trillion.


FDA Nominee Califf Gave Questionable Answers to Senate

February 4, 2016

As President Obama’s nominee for FDA Commissioner, former Duke University researcher Robert Califf has faced questions about the independence of clinical trials he conducted for drug companies.

At a confirmation hearing in November and in a written response to later questions from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Califf offered comforting answers. He said that plans for clinical trials are subject to FDA review.

But those answers omitted some history that might be less reassuring: a clinical trial Califf had co-chaired was conducted in defiance of FDA guidance.


Despite Decades of Stealth, Sticking Points Bedevil F-35 Jet

JAN. 24, 2016

One of the earliest stealth weapons on record was a stone used by the young Israelite David to kill the Philistine giant Goliath. In the biblical account, David shunned the conventional armaments of his time: sword, helmet, armor. Instead, he went forth with a slingshot and a few stones, kept undetected in a pouch. As any schoolchild knows, one well-aimed fling was all it took to put Goliath down for good. The big guy never saw it coming.

It is not clear to what extent David tested his weapon before doing battle, but he presumably had experimented. The first Book of Samuel tells how he had earlier struck and killed a lion and a bear that menaced the sheep he tended.


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.”


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.


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.


Ground Hog Day: De-bugging the F-35

February 8, 2016

It seems the F-35 fighter; aka the most expensive weapons system ever, hasn’t been in the news too often lately. And most of the news out that is out there is awful, according to reports in early February. If or when the jet fighters do fly on a regular basis, at some point in the future some will be used by the Vermont Air National Guard and based at the Burlington airport. This is over objections from residents in nearby towns over possible noise levels during take-off and landings — so, here’s a heads up for Vermonters.

If you care to read more details, that can be done here. But these three descriptive headlines provide a more than adequate, quick summary: The Version That the Marines Are Using Is Very Buggy; ALIS [Autonomic Logistics Information System] Is Still Terrible, Perhaps Even Getting Worse; and my favorite, Lockouts, Confusion, etc.


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.”


DOT&E Concerns about the F-35

by Bryan Myers & Sheila MacVicar
February 2, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The bad news for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the most expensive weapons program in history, with an estimated price tag of $1.4 trillion – continues to pile up.

In a stark new assessment, a Pentagon report documents significant and on-going problems with the F-35 program. America Tonight has obtained a copy of that report in advance of its release.

The findings [PDF], which were made by Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), include:


Decades of Stealth Sticking Points Bedevil F-35

Despite Decades of Stealth  Sticking Points Bedevil F 35 JetBy CLYDE HABERMAN
JAN. 24, 2016

One of the earliest stealth weapons on record was a stone used by the young Israelite David to kill the Philistine giant Goliath. In the biblical account, David shunned the conventional armaments of his time: sword, helmet, armor. Instead, he went forth with a slingshot and a few stones, kept undetected in a pouch. As any schoolchild knows, one well-aimed fling was all it took to put Goliath down for good. The big guy never saw it coming.

It is not clear to what extent David tested his weapon before doing battle, but he presumably had experimented. The first Book of Samuel tells how he had earlier struck and killed a lion and a bear that menaced the sheep he tended.


F-22 and F-35 can’t share data

By Phillip Swarts
December 14, 2015

If the Air Force wants to be effective in future conflicts, it must rethink the way it handles electronic warfare, a retired general said Dec. 1.

“Currently there’s no data link between the F-22 and F-35 that would allow them to share targeting data,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula. “Instead, these two fifth-gen aircraft — built by the same company, I might add — operate separate networks riding on proprietary links.”


Resident frustration with airport noise maps

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.


Bernie and the Jets

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.”


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

From: “U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders” <Senator@sanders.senate.gov>

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

Subject: Email from Senator 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/.



United States Senator

US considers purchasing more F-15s or F-16s

By Bill Sweetman
November 19, 2015

LONDON — The U.S. Air Force may solicit bids for 72 new Boeing F-15s, Lockheed Martin F-16s or even Boeing F/A-18E/Fs as budget issues put planned production rates for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter out of reach, according to senior service and industry officials at the Defense IQ International Fighter Conference …


A-10 Retirement Could be Delayed

By Phillip Swarts
November 23, 2015

The Air Force could delay retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II by a few years to meet demand for close-air support missions, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, said Nov. 10.

“I think we would probably move the retirement slightly to the right,” he said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. “Eventually we will have to get there. We have to retire airplanes. But I think moving it to the right and starting it a bit later and keeping the airplane a bit longer is something to consider, based on things as they are today and what we see in the future.”


Navy to continue buying F-18 because F-35 is delayed

NOVEMBER 5, 2015

US Navy officials have reaffirmed plans to procure an additional 24 to 36 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets through fiscal year 2018 while also boosting F/A-18C life-extension rates, primarily due to delays in fielding the carrier-based Lockheed Martin F-35C.

Boeing has been trying desperately to shore up Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler production in St Louis, Missouri, but the company’s difficulty in securing international sales has raised doubts.


Trump wants to fire F-35

By Tyler Rogoway
October 30, 2015

Presidential candidate Donald Trump is finally offering some specifics when it comes to defense policy, and on conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt’s program today he floated the possibility of cancelling the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program if he gets elected.

According to the Air Force Times, Trump said: “When they say that this cannot perform as well as the planes we already have, what are [we] doing, and spending so much more money?” He continued, “I do hear that it’s not very good… I’m hearing that our existing planes are better. And one of the pilots came out of the plane, one of the test pilots, and said this isn’t as good as what we already have.”


Trump wants to Fire the F-35

By Phillip Swarts
October 30, 2015

Donald Trump wants to tell the F-35 that it’s fired.

The businessman and Republican presidential candidate questioned the wisdom of purchasing the joint strike fighter during an appearance on a conservative radio talk show Oct. 22.

“When they say that this cannot perform as well as the planes we already have, what are [we] doing, and spending so much more money?” Trump said during an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.


F-35 Helmet is Too Heavy

By Phillip Swarts
November 2, 2015

The F-35 helmet is back in the news again, after Defense News, sister publication of Air Force Times, reported that F-35 pilots weighing under 136 pounds have been grounded due to concerns with the plane’s ejection seat.

Tests showed that a lighterweight pilot’s neck could snap during an ejection at slow speeds. While the ejection-seat issue is separate from the helmet, there are concerns that the heavy headgear is contributing to the problem of neck injuries during ejections.

“What we found was if the pilot has a helmet on his head or her head and that helmet weighs more than 4.8 pounds, then the neck loads on that light-weight pilot — by a very little bit — exceed what we would consider to be perfectly safe,” said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office. “Today our helmets weigh about 5.4 pounds, so we’re talking about six ounces of weight to get out of the helmet,” Bogdan told the HouseArmed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces Oct. 21. “We need a lighter helmet, it’s as simple as that.


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.”


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.


AF tests ways to help F-35 survive in dogfights

By Phillip Swarts
October 5, 2015

Though designed for long-range engagements, there may be times when the F-35 Lightning II will be forced to get visual confirmation of a target, said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command.

“Will there ever be a time where you’ll have to put your eyeball on somebody to make sure he’s what you think he is? There may well be,” Carlisle said during a Sept.18 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


F-35 ejection seat fears ground lightweight pilots

By Lara Seligman
October 12, 2015

Concerns about increased risk of injury to F-35 pilots during lowspeed ejections have prompted the military services to temporarily restrict pilots who weigh less than 136 pounds from flying the aircraft, Defense News, a sister publication of Air Force Times, has learned.

During August tests of the ejection seat, built by Martin-Baker, testers discovered an increased risk of neck injury when a lightweight pilot is flying at slower speeds. Until the problem is fixed, the services decided to restrict pilots weighing under 136 pounds from operating the plane, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, F-35 integration office director, told Defense News in a Sept. 29 interview.


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.”


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.


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.”


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.


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.


Lockheed considering laser weapon concepts for F-35

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


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.


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

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.


Pentagon Testing Office Calls Foul on F-35B “Operational Test”

By: Mandy Smithberger and Dan Grazier
September 14, 2015

The Marine Corps triumphantly declared its variant of the F-35 combat ready in late July. In the public relations build-up, the recent demonstration of its performance on the USS Wasp was heralded as a rebuttal to the program’s critics. But a complete copy of a recent memo from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E)—obtained by the Project On Government Oversight through the Freedom of Information Act—reveals that a number of maintenance and reliability problems “are likely to present significant near-term challenges for the Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps named this demonstration “Operational Test One,” but it turns out it wasn’t actually an operational test, “in either a formal or an informal sense of the term.” To count as an operational test, conditions should closely match realistic combat conditions. But DOT&E found the demonstration “did not—and could not—demonstrate that Block 2B F-35B is operationally effective or suitable for use in any type of limited combat operation, or that it was ready for real-world operational deployments, given the way the event was structured.”


Comparison tests to pit A-10 Warthog vs. new F-35 fighter

One of the biggest battles between Congress and the Pentagon during the past year has been over a snub-nosed grunt of an airplane, a jet so ugly (and fierce) it’s nicknamed the “Warthog.”

It is beloved by the troops, particularly those who have been saved when the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and its huge 30mm cannon, swooped in to save them in combat.



Carlisle: F-35s won’t dogfight, F-22s will

By Phillip Swarts
September 16, 2015

The F-35 Lightning II will excel at air interdiction, but was not created to engage in visual dogfights, according to Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command.

The general’s comments at the annual Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference came in response to a series of reports that have criticized the F-35’s inability to win dogfights with current fourth-generation aircraft.


China’s Copycat Jet Raises Questions About F-35

SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

New technical specs about China’s new J-31 fighter, a plane designed to rival the American-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, popped up on a Chinese blog last week. So who has the advantage — the U.S. or China?


The F-35 Is Still the Worst Military Investment Ever

October 1, 2015

​It’s been a while since we checked in on the F-35, the Flying Swiss Army Knife, which may be a floor wax or a dessert topping, but which sure as hell isn’t an viable aircraft, but is one of the epic money pits of all time, even by Pentagon standards, which are higher than the plane thus far has been able to get off the ground. How are things going, anyway?

China’s twin-engine design bears a striking resemblance to the single-jet F-35. Still, the Joint Strike Fighter is expected to fly slightly farther and carry a heavier load of weapons, according to the data, which was first reported by Jane’s.


More Bad News for the F-35, the Plane That Ate the Pentagon

September 30, 2015

The warplanes took off vertically, dipping and diving as they intercepted enemy aircraft, suppressed enemy fire and supported troops on the ground. Then they landed on the deck of an amphibious assault ship, in the same way they took off: vertically.

For 10 days in May off the coast of Virginia, a half dozen F-35 fighter jets tested their capabilities under what military officials called real world combat conditions. The Pentagon was trying to see if the Marine Corps’ version of the next-generation fighter plane—its most expensive weapons project ever—was ready for battle. In July, after analyzing the test results, Marine Commandant General Joseph Dunsford triumphantly declared that it was.


F-35 Fatal Ejection Fear Riles Congress

By Lara Seligman
October 5, 2015

WASHINGTON — Concern is mounting on Capitol Hill after recent tests revealed a lightweight F-35 pilot’s neck could snap when ejecting at certain speeds.

The fears focus on the Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat. During testing of the new Generation 3 helmet this summer, testers discovered the risk of fatal neck injury when a lighter pilot ejects during slower-speed flights, according to a source with knowledge of the program. Testers discovered the ejection snapped the necks of lighter-weight test dummies, the source said.


Newsweek and Washington Post Pick Up POGO’s F-35B Story

By: Daniel Van Schooten
October 5, 2015

Newsweek has followed The Washington Post in picking up our important story regarding the operational readiness of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. Though declared to be operational, the plane was not tested in real-world combat scenarios. The deck had been cleared, critical onboard systems had not been installed, and various other factors combined to make the test easier to pass. Used as more of a publicity stunt than any confirmation of actual combat readiness, the declaration of operational readiness is misleading.


F-35 Fatal Ejection Fear Riles Congress

By Lara Seligman
October 5, 2015

WASHINGTON — Concern is mounting on Capitol Hill after recent tests revealed a lightweight F-35 pilot’s neck could snap when ejecting at certain speeds.

The fears focus on the Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat. During testing of the new Generation 3 helmet this summer, testers discovered the risk of fatal neck injury when a lighter pilot ejects during slower-speed flights, according to a source with knowledge of the program. Testers discovered the ejection snapped the necks of lighter-weight test dummies, the source said.


USAF: Expanded Risk of Neck Damage to F-35 Pilots

By Lara Seligman
October 19, 2015

WASHINGTON — Weeks after Defense News revealed that the military services had restricted lightweight pilots from flying the F-35 joint strike fighter, the US Air Force officially acknowledged an increased risk of neck damage during ejection to middleweight pilots as well.

In a news release issued Oct. 16, the Air Force confirmed a Defense News report that pilots under 136 pounds are currently barred from flying the fifth-generation aircraft, expected to be the backbone of American airpower for decades to come. It also acknowledged an “elevated level of risk” for pilots between 136 and 165 pounds.



Vago’s Notebook: F-35 Progress

The challenges tend to obscure progress for major programs like the joint strike fighter, but the JSF has been on a winning streak.


A-10 Standoff commentary

By John Michael Loh
August 10, 2015

The best way to resolve the interminable A-10 retirement debate is to satisfy both sides with a solution that eliminates the operational and economic arguments driving it.

The primary vocal critics of the Air Force decision to retire the A-10 close-support aircraft are Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and freshman Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. All three have strong ties to the A-10. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, is home to the largest A-10 base. Closure of the base would have serious economic impact. Ayotte’s husband is a formerA-10 pilot. McSally flew A-10s in the Air Force.

[Full Article]

Leaked F-35 Report Confirms Deficiencies

By: Mandy Smithberger and Dan Grazier
July 27, 2015

A new leaked test, which was first exposed by War is Boring, provides more evidence that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s demonstrated performance is inferior to the current fighters it is designed to replace. Specifically, the report finds that, in a series of 17 dogfights, the F-35 was consistently outmatched by an aging F-16.

An F-35A test pilot with extensive dogfighting experience in F-16s and F-15s wrote the report, detailing his cockpit observations during the January 2015 maneuvering combat tests of the F-35 against a 30-year-old F-16 at Edwards Flight Test Center in California. The report, marked for official use only (FOUO), highlighted serious concerns about the plane’s performance in this key mission.

[Full Article]

Congress must re-evaluate F-35 in light of deficiencies

By: Iulia Gheorghiu
July 28, 2015

A Project On Government Oversight (POGO) analysis of the F-35’s capabilities describes how the fighter can’t perform one of its key advertised missions—a failure that POGO says should prompt Congress and the Pentagon to conduct a complete re-evaluation of the $1.4 trillion program.

POGO’s analysis, which relied on a recent report by an F-35 test pilot, provides more evidence that the F-35’s demonstrated performance is inferior to the current fighters it is designed to replace. Specifically, the test pilot’s report, which was first cited by War is Boring, finds that, in a series of 17 dogfights, the F-35 was consistently outmatched by an aging F-16.

[Full Article]

A-10 versus the F-35

By Anthony Capaccio
August 27, 2015

Opponents of U.S. Air Force efforts to retire its A-10 have said the 40-year-old close-air support plane can outperform the Pentagon’s most advanced aircraft.

It turns out the lumbering old plane, nicknamed the Warthog, will get a chance to prove it.

The Air Force’s top general and the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester confirmed Thursday that Lockheed Martin Corp.’s new F-35 fighter, equipped with its most modern software, will be tested against the A-10 in 2018 in a comparative evaluation of their capabilities for close-air support, as well as other missions such as air-to-air combat.

[Full Article]

F-35 vs. the A-10

By Christian Davenport
August 27, 2015

One of the biggest battles between Congress and the Pentagon over the past year has been over a snub-nosed grunt of an airplane, a jet so ugly (and fierce) it’s nicknamed the “Warthog.” It is beloved by the troops, particularly those who have been saved when the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and its huge 30 mm cannon, swooped in to save them in combat.

But despite the aircraft’s revered status, the Air Force has said it has no choice but to retire the fleet at a time of budget constraints. The A-10, officials have said, is designed for a single purpose—taking out enemy ground troops at such close range—a mission that could be taken over by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s $400 billion next-generation fighter jet.

[Full Article]

Serious Air Combat Deficiencies in F-35

By Dan Grazier and Mandy Smithberger
July 27, 2015

A new leaked test, which was first exposed by War is Boring, provides more evidence that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s demonstrated performance is inferior to the current fighters it is designed to replace. Specifically, the report finds that, in a series of 17 dogfights, the F-35 was consistently outmatched by an aging F-16.

An F-35A test pilot with extensive dogfighting experience in F-16s and F-15s wrote the report, detailing his cockpit observations during the January 2015 maneuvering combat tests of the F-35 against a 30-year-old F-16 at Edwards Flight Test Center in California. The report, marked for official use only (FOUO), highlighted serious concerns about the plane’s performance in this key mission.

[Full Article]

Last manned fighter

By Gareth Jennings
July 27, 2015

With the US Marine Corps set to declare initial operating capability for its Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) before the end of July, many are again asking if there will ever be another manned fighter, or if the JSF truly is the last of its kind.

The history of military aviation is littered with false predictions pertaining to the demise of the traditional notion of the fighter aircraft. In the United States the Vought F-8 Crusader developed in the mid-1950s was nicknamed ‘the last gunslinger’ in the mistaken belief that all fighters to follow would carry missiles only.

[Full Article]

F-35 Reliability Found Wanting

by Anthony Capaccio
July 28, 2015

The Marine Corps’ version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 fighter demonstrated poor reliability in a 12-day exercise at sea, according to the U.S. military’s top testing officer.

Six F-35Bs, the most complex version of the Pentagon’s costliest weapons system, were available for flights only half of the time needed, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing, said in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. A Marine Corps spokesman said the readiness rate was more than 65 percent.

[Full Article]

China and Russia could destroy F-35 battle

By Malcolm Davis
July 26, 2015

After the leaking of a report about the recent failure of an F-35 to win in a dogfight against an F-16D, debate has intensified about the future nature of air to air combat. In a recent Strategist post, Andrew Davies identifies the importance of combining long-range air-to-air engagement using ‘Beyond-Visual Range Air to Air Missiles’ (BVRAAMs), with the advantage bestowed by stealth technology to reduce detectability of the aircraft, as well as exploiting superior sensors, information processing and electronic warfare capability.

Davies also notes that it is yet to be demonstrated how effective these capabilities will be in a future operational environment, stating “…there are reasons to wonder how effective the F-35’s bag of tricks will be into the future, especially as counter-stealth systems evolve, and I’d like to see it carry more and longer-ranged weapons…” Clearly the F-35 was designed to undertake a particular approach to air-to-air combat in mind (long-range attacks) rather than close-in dogfighting. This highlights a key question that is now generating significant debate: “Are our current assumptions about future air combat—that BVR engagement will dominate and ‘dogfights’ have had their day

[Full Article]

Secretary of the Air Force acknowledges wide range of problems with the F-35

By Richard Sisk
Jul 28, 2015

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has admitted to a wide range of past and present problems with the F-35 while maintaining that the fifth-general will eventually guarantee the U.S. continued air supremacy over rivals.

“The biggest lesson I have learned from the F-35 is never again should we be flying an aircraft while we’re building it,” James said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado last week.

[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]

New F-35 Radar

By Joe Zieja
July 19, 2015

EGLIN AFB, Fla. — Lockheed Martin has announced a new, cutting-edge technology that will be outfitted in future iterations of the F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter. The new technology, code-named “radar” may allow the fifth-generation fighter to spot other objects in the sky.

“It’s like, these beams, see?” Lauren Ramirez, spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin said during a press conference that announced the space-age technology. “And they shoot out of an invisible cannon at the nose of the aircraft. And they bounce back, and then something catches them and reads them — like two guys throwing a paper airplane back and forth, but the paper airplane has the locations of stuff in the sky on them. It’s really neat.”

[Full Article]

F-35 Flight Test Failure

By Eric Pianin
July 10, 2015

For more than a dozen years, the Pentagon has steadfastly stood behind the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program as the next generation of jet fighters for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines, despite nightmarish development problems and daunting cost overruns.

The overall cost of developing and purchasing the jets currently is projected at $400 billion, while operating and maintenance costs could boost the overall price tag to nearly $1.5 trillion in the coming years. Lockheed Martin has weathered a vast array of design problems, most recently concerns over software and its computer system’s vulnerability.

[Full Article]

F-35 pilot unimpressed

By Tyler Rogoway
July 13, 2015

F-35 pilot Maj. John Wilson is back in the second part of his interview with our friends at Krigeren.dk. This time the conversation moved from the F-35’s capabilities, especially those as a close air support platform, to the jet’s much-touted half a million dollar helmet with quasi-X-Ray vision, a feature the Major seems less than impressed with.

The Major’s lackluster enthusiasm for the technology is understandable. Clearly, it still has a long way to go to be fully integrated into the F-35’s concept of operations and the clarity of the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System, which has been a major sticking point in the past, along with the aircraft’s Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS), remains a major issue.

[Full Article]

F-35 Can’t Dogfight Well

July 1, 2015

The makers of one of the most expensive weapons programs in history went on the defensive today, saying a recent report on the F-35 fighter jet’s failures in old-school dogfighting against a decades-old, much cheaper legacy fighter “does not tell the whole story.”

The report in question, posted on the national security news website War Is Boring, was based on an internal five-page brief in which an F-35 test pilot wrote a scathing criticism of the next-generation jet’s abilities in a January dogfight with an F-16, one of the planes the F-35 is designed to replace. Essentially, the pilot reportedly wrote, the F-35 was no match for the F-16 in close-up, high maneuvering fighting — whether the F-35 was trying to get the F-16 in its sights or trying to evade the F-16’s mock weapons.

[Full Article]

House Panel punts on A-10, Wants F-35 engine study

By Brian Everstine
April 30, 2014

The House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill ignores the biggest budget fight of the year: the Air Force’s proposal to retire the A-10 attack jet and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.

The tactical air and land subcommittee’s markup of the bill, released Wednesday, does not mention A-10 or U-2 retirement. The Air Force recommends retiring the fleets to save money, but a group of lawmakers has vowed to block the move.

[Full Article]

Keeping A-10 means F-35 delays, F-16 cuts

By Brian Everstine
April 28, 2015

If not allowed to retire the A-10, the Air Force says it will have to send F-16s to the boneyard and delay plans for the F-35 because there aren’t enough airmen to maintain both fighters.

If lawmakers succeed in passing a bill requiring the Air Force to keep the A-10 in its fleet for another year, too few maintenance personnel would available to stand up the first operating unit of the F-35 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and even fewer to continue maintenance of the F-16, the service told congressional staff in a recent briefing. The base is expected to begin receiving F-35s later this year.

[Full Article]

New Red Alert for Billions-Over-Budget F-35 Fighter

By Brianna Ehley
April 27, 2015

Federal auditors are once again sounding alarms over the Pentagon’s embattled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which has soared hundreds of billions of dollars over budget.

Besides being the Defense Department’s most expensive weapons program ever, countless problems with the F-35, including design and systematic issues, have continually pushed back the ready-for-combat date. It is now years behind schedule.

[Full Article]

David Axe Summarizes the F-35 Experience

By David Axe
April 25, 2015

From all the recent sounds of celebrating coming out of Washington, D.C., you might think the Pentagon’s biggest, priciest and most controversial warplane development had accelerated right past all its problems.

The price tag —currently an estimated $1 trillion to design, build and operate 2,400 copies—is steadily going down. Production of dozens of the planes a year for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps is getting easier. Daily flight tests increasingly are hitting all the right marks.

[Full Article]

F-35 Maintenance Software Comes Under Fire

By Sandra I. Erwin
April 24, 2015

The subpar performance of the F-35 logistics information system has been a concern for years. But it has now drawn the attention of key lawmakers who got an earful from Joint Strike Fighter maintenance crews during a recent visit to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

“The committee received numerous complaints and concerns by F-35 maintenance and operational personnel regarding the limitations, poor performance, poor design, and overall unsuitability of the ALIS software in its current form,” said the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on tactical air and land forces in its markup of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

[Full Article]

F-35 Engines Unreliable

by Anthony Capaccio
April 27, 2015

F-35 engines from United Technologies Corp. are proving so unreliable that U.S. plans to increase production of the fighter jet may be slowed, according to congressional auditors.

Data from flight tests evaluated by the Government Accountability Office show the reliability of engines from the company’s Pratt & Whitney unit is “very poor (less than half of what it should be) and has limited” progress for the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons system, the watchdog agency said in a report sent to lawmakers this month.

[Full Article]

F-35 exec’s plea to critics: look at jet’s full mission

By Brian Everstine
April 15, 2015

Decision-makers on Capitol Hill have lost sight of the full mission set of the F-35, and instead have focused on its inability to fully replicate the A-10 in close air support, the head of the Joint Strike Fighter program said Tuesday.

The F-35 cannot do close air support as well as the A-10, acknowledged Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program executive officer. It doesn’t have the time on station in a battle, or a gun as venerable as the Warthog’s GAU-8 Avenger. But it flies other missions, and it will improve, he said.

[Full Article]

Another F-35 Delay? Highly touted maintenance software doesn’t deliver

By Brian Everstine
April 15, 2015

The F-35’s highly touted, next-generation software system designed to detail maintenance issues on the jet is plagued with problems that could lead to more delays with the jet’s development.

The F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System is a program that a maintainer plugs into the jet, and it is expected to outline what is wrong and what is working, and to streamline the process of identifying replacement parts. It has been a touted as a game-changing technology to simplify the maintenance process for the new jet.

[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]

Ship built by Navy for F35 needs significant upgrades

By Tyler Rogoway
April 13, 2015

The Navy’s USS America, the first of her class, was controversially optimized to handle the F-35, leaving out the multi-purpose well deck traditionally found on ‘Gator Navy’ flattops. Now, just months after her commissioning, she already needs 40 weeks of upgrades just to handle the very aircraft she was designed for.

The F-35 program has become something of a dark comedy. Yes, it has huge fiscal and national security implications, but sometimes you just have to laugh at how big of a fumbling mess it really is.

[Full Article]

USAF Plans for Radical F-35 Upgrade Reveal Obsolescence

By Giovanni de Briganti
April 8, 2015

PARIS — US Air Force plans to replace the F-35 fighter’s avionics, radar and engines are an implicit admission that the current aircraft is already obsolete and that, despite a unit cost of over $250 million, it cannot match the latest foreign fighters coming into service.

This is the first time a customer acknowledges that the obsolescence of the F-35’s sensors has degraded the aircraft’s still unproven nominal capabilities to the point that a radical upgrade is necessary, more than a year before it enters service.

[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]

F-35 needs a bigger, more powerful engine

Dave Majumdar, Chris Kjelgaard
March 27, 2015

Upgraded future versions of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could replace the stealthy jet’s Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan with a new adaptive cycle engine. The current F135 engine is at the limits of its capabilities and can’t push the jet out to the outer edges of its airframes capabilities—especially at low speeds.

“Our adaptive cycle design architecture is designed around F-35, and we’re designing it somewhat more aggressively than today’s standard F-35 requirements,” Dan McCormick, general manager of General Electric Aviation’s Advanced Combat Engine program, told The National Interest. “They want higher speeds and they just can’t get the heat off the airplane. They’ve told us they want unrestricted flight envelope operation.”

[Full Article]

Anon F35 letter from Washington DC area

Anon F35 letter from Washington DC area

F-35 still years away from being ready for combat

By: Mandy Smithberger
March 12, 2015

The F-35 continues to fail the most basic requirements for combat aircraft and commonsense. Despite reforms, the F-35 continues to be unaffordable, its engines continue to be susceptible to fire, and the Pentagon continues to misrepresent its performance. Below are just a few of the issues identified in a recent report from the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E)

[Full Article]

The F-35 is Still FUBAR

By AJ Vicens
Mar. 17, 2015

Originally slated to cost $233 billion, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could end up being costing more than $1.5 trillion. Which might not be so bad if the super-sophisticated next-generation jet fighter lives up to its hype. A recent report from the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation paints a pretty damning picture of the plane’s already well documented problems. The report makes for some pretty dense reading, but the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group that’s long criticized the F-35 program, has boiled down the major issues.

[Full Article]

Not Ready for Prime Time DOT&E Report: The F-35 is not ready for IOC and won’t be any time soon

March 12, 2015

Inside-the-Beltway wisdom holds that the $1.4 trillion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is too big to cancel and on the road to recovery. But the latest report from the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) provides a litany of reasons that conventional wisdom should be considered politically driven propaganda. The press has already reported flawed software that hinders the ability of the plane to employ weapons, communicate information, and detect threats; maintenance problems so severe that the F-35 has an “overdependence” on contractor maintainers and “unacceptable workarounds” (behind paywall) and is only able to fly twice a week; and a high-rate, premature production schedule that ignores whether the program has demonstrated essential combat capabilities or proven it’s safe to fly. All of these problems are increasing costs and risks to the program. Yet rather than slow down production to focus resources on fixing these critical problems, Congress used the year-end continuing resolution omnibus appropriations bill—termed the “cromnibus”—to add 4 additional planes to the 34 Department of Defense (DoD) budgeted for Fiscal Year 2015. The original FY2016 plan significantly increased the buy to 55, and now the program office is further accelerating its purchase of these troubled planes to buy 57 instead.

[full article]

Little “Fighter” That Couldn’t: Moral Hazard and the F-35

By Tony Carr
March 16, 2015

As Air Force senior officials prepare for posture hearings this week with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the subject of modernization promises to be front and center. Core to that discussion will almost certainly be the limping, $1.4 trillion F-35 program.

Belying the conventional wisdom, which touts the Joint Strike Fighter as something of a futuristic aerial Swiss army knife, the F-35 is proving to be little more than a dull, bent, and unwieldy butter knife — a jack of no trades, master of only one: burning through taxpayer dollars at a rate that would embarrass Croesus.

[full article]

Marine Corp to put flawed F-35 into service

MAR. 27, 2015

The biggest story this year so far in the F-35 joint strike fighter world is not the soaring cost of the aircraft — a problem that appears to have been contained, according to the program manager — but the determination of the Marine Corps to put the aircraft into service even though its mission software is unfinished and cracks surfaced in one of its main bulkheads.

[full article]


F-35 pilots are seeing double, but it’s the plane that’s drunk

by Daniel Cooper
March 25th 2015

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may be stealthy, powerful and expensive, but the plane’s greatest threat isn’t the enemy. Instead, engineers have discovered a software glitch that gives these new super fighters the technological equivalent of double vision. F-35s are equipped with Advanced Sensor Fusion, a system that’s designed to collate sensor data from all of the planes and combine them into one big picture. If you have 10 jets zooming around, all of the allied pilots and commanders will, theoretically, be able to see everything that’s going on.

[Full Article]

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

Government watchdog group wants delay in Vermont F-35 basing decision

An independent government watchdog group in Washington D.C. has asked the Air Force to put off a decision to base a squadron of F-35s in Vermont because of ongoing safety concerns regard about the fledgling fighter jet.

“It is irresponsible for you to rush to beddown this immature aircraft in a residential zone,” Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, wrote in a Nov. 6 letter to the acting Air Force secretary and chief of staff. “If you believe there is indeed some urgency, then you should not endanger the local population and should follow past precedent and place the F-35A in a less dangerous location,” Brian said in the letter. One of the group’s founding advisers is Pierre Sprey, a former designer of military aircraft who has made two appearances in Burlington on behalf of foes of the F-35. The Air Force has designated the Vermont Air National Guard facility at Burlington International Airport in South Burlington as the preferred Air Guard site over Guard bases in South Carolina and Florida. A final basing decision by the Air Force is expected shortly.

Brian’s letter said her organization obtained information from an Air Force official indicating the F-35 will have logged only 300,000 hours of training and operational flight time by 2020, when the basing in Vermont would begin. Vermont Air National Guard officials have said they believe the plane will have flown 750,000 hours by 2020. “We strongly urge you to delay selecting a location for the F-35A’s operational beddown until the aircraft has logged a significant number of flying hours and until its safety record has been demonstrated,” Brian wrote.

Full article: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20131125/NEWS02/311250033/Government-watchdog-group-wants-delay-in-Vt-F-35-basing

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/

F35: “Loads up like a bomb truck”

“It loads up like a bomb truck with the world’s deadliest air to ground weapons.”

As F-16 designer Pierre Sprey said in 2013, the F-35 will be used as a high altitude bomber.

Watch this 3 minute F-35 promotion video to learn more.

Watchdog report deals another blow to F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

By M. Alex Johnson, Staff Writer, NBC News

Hundreds of problems continue to plague the troubled Joint Strike Fighter, potentially calling into question the basic performance and reliability of the costliest weapons program in U.S. history, the Defense Department’s inspector general charges in a new report.

In a 16-month investigation that began in February 2012, the inspector general’s office — an agency within the Pentagon responsible for investigating allegations of waste, fraud, security lapses and other misconduct — identified more than 360 quality “issues” with the F-35 Lightning II — with 147 of them classified as “major.”

Read full article:


Will It Fly?

The Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapons system ever developed. It is plagued by design flaws and cost overruns. It flies only in good weather. The computers that run it lack the software they need for combat. No one can say for certain when the plane will work as advertised. Until recently, the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, was operating with a free hand—paid handsomely for its own mistakes. Looking back, even the general now in charge of the program can’t believe how we got to this point. In sum: all systems go!


Breaking Defense: Top Official Admits F-35 Stealth Fighter Secrets Stolen


Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Washington DC

Journalist Sydney J Freedberg Jr. reports “Yesterday, at a subcommittee hearing attended by just half a dozen Senators, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer made a blunt admission: The military’s most expensive program, the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has been hacked and the stolen data used by America’s adversaries. Under Secretary Frank Kendall didn’t say by whom, but the answer is almost certainly China,

“So what does this mean for a future conflict? The nightmare — raised by a recent Defense Science Board report – is what you might call the Battlestar Galactica scenario: Our fighters close in on the enemy, the bad guys push a button, and all our systems shut down, crippled by cyber-attacks via “back doors” previous hacks created in the security software. In this case, thankfully, that seems unlikely. Kendall made clear that classified data has remained secure (so far, we think): It’s unclassified data in contractors’ computers that has been stolen, not the military’s secret codes.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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

Film Excerpt: F-16 and A-10 Co-Designer, Pierre Sprey, speaks out in Burlington Vermont about the F-35 Warplane for an upcoming documentary


Thursday, June 13th, 2013

South Burlington, VT

On his recent visit to Burlington VT, Warplane Designer , Pierre Sprey, speaks out against the F-35.

Click here to see this short excerpt of what will be a full length film soon to be released called the F-35 Movie.

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!


F-35 News From Around The World: Canada’s CBC-TV’s The Runaway Fighter

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Toronto, Canada

Investigative Journalist, Gillian Findlay, reports in this brilliant 45 minute exposè on the F-35 troubles in Canada. Notice the parallels with our struggles…

Click here to watch this investigative report.

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!

F-35 News From Around The World: Canada’s CBC-TV Interviews Pierre Sprey Co-Designer of The F-16 and A-10 Warplanes

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Toronto, Canada

Investigative Journalist, Gillian Findlay, interviews F-16 and A-10 Warplane Designer Pierre Sprey in this 10 minute interview.

Click here to watch the interview

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!

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


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


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.


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.



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.



Vermont Digger reports: Former Fighter Jet Designer Voices Concern Over Basing F-35 in Vermont

May 31st, 2013

Burlington VT

Vermont Digger journalist, John Herrick, reports that a former designer of Air Force fighter jets added his voice to the chorus of opposition to basing a next-generation war plane at Burlington International Airport.

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.

WPTZ Channel 5 NBC affiliate: Military Designer, Leahy Speak Out on The F-35 in Burlington VT

On May 30th, Pierre Sprey, co-designer of the F-16 and A-10 Warplanes came to Burlington Vermont to speak at The F-35: A Citizens’ Hearing at the Unitarian Universalist Church at the top of Church Street to a packed house to the rafters.

Here is new footage from Channel 5

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.

VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb Interviews The Architect of the F-16 Warplane. Calls F-35 “A Combat Turkey”

On May 30th, 2013, Mitch Wertlieb of Vermont Public Radio’s Morning Edition interviewed Pierre Sprey, co-designer of the F-16 and A-10 Warplanes to ask him his opinions based upon his expertise and experience about the F-35 which Mr. Sprey called “a combat turkey”.

Click on this link to open and then click the “listen” button.

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.

Pierre Sprey and USAF Col Rosanne Greco TV Interview at Center for Media and Democracy

On May 30th, 2013 F-16 co-designer Pierre Sprey visited Burlington Vermont to speak at The Citizens’ Hearing at the Unitarian Church along with USAF Col Rosanne Greco. This interview entitled, “The F-35 Jet – Dispelling the Myths with interviewer Matt Kelly.

Please watch this important video!

The F-35 Fighter Jet – Dispelling the Myths

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.”


Fail! The $400 Billion Military Jet That Can’t Fly in Cloudy Weather

By William Boardman

The F-35 joint strike fighter is an unbelievable failure, and the perfect illustration of everything that’s wrong with our military industrial complex.

According to one of its supporters, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is not “what our troops need,” is “too costly” and “poorly managed,” and its “present difficulties are too numerous to detail.”

The F-35 is a case study of government failure at all levels – civilian and military, federal, state, local, even airport authority. Not one critical government agency is meeting its obligation to protect the people it presumably represents. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who wrote the F-35 critique above, is hardly unique as an illustration of how government fails, but he sees no alternative to failure.

Up for re-election in 2014 and long a supporter of basing the F-35 in Vermont, Leahy put those thoughts in a letter to a constituent made public March 13. This is Leahy’s most recent public communication since December 2012, when he refused to meet with opponents of the F-35 and his web site listed a page of “public discussion” events mostly from the spring, including private briefings with public officials, without responding to any substantive issues.

The F-35 is a nuclear-capable weapon of mass destruction that was supposed to be the “fighter of the future” when it was undertaken in 2001. Now, more than a decade overdue and more than 100{33979494efa9b9c28f844b5c37a1ddedf4bb90a2eb3dac7a83ede58b7eac2e67} over budget, the plane is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over its useful life, of which about $400 billion has already been spent.



Pentagon: F-35 Won’t Have a Chance in Real Combat

By Veterans Today

Fatal flaws within the cockpit of the US military’s most expensive fighter jet ever are causing further problems with the Pentagon’s dubious F-35 program.

Just weeks after a fleet of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters was grounded for reasons unrelated, a new report from the Pentagon warns that any pilot that boards the pricey aircraft places himself in danger without even going into combat.

In a leaked memo from the Defense Department’s director of the Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon official prefaces a report on the F-35 by cautioning that even training missions cannot be safely performed on board the aircraft at this time.

“The training management system lags in development compared to the rest of the Integrated Training Center and does not yet have all planned functionality,” the report reads in part.

In other sections of the lengthy DoD analysis, Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate Director J. Michael Gilmore outlines a number of flaws that jeopardize the safety of any pilot that enters the aircraft.

“The out-of-cockpit visibility in the F-35A is less than other Air Force fighter aircraft,” one excerpt reads.

Elsewhere, Gilmore includes quotes from pilots commenting after test missions onboard the aircraft: “The head rest is too large and will impede aft [rear] visibility and survivability during surface and air engagements,” said one. “Aft visibility will get the pilot gunned [down] every time” in dogfights, remarked another.

“Aft visibility could turn out to be a significant problem for all F-35 pilots in the future,” the Pentagon admits.

In one chart included in the report, the Pentagon says there are eight crucial flaws with the aircraft that have raises serious red flags within the Department of Defense. The plane’s lack of maturity, reduced pilot situational awareness during an emergency and the risk of the aircraft’s fuel barriers catching fire are also cited, as is the likelihood of a pilot in distress becoming unable to escape his aircraft during an emergency — or perhaps drowning in event of an evacuation over water.

The Pilot Vehicle Interface, or PVI, is also listed as not up to snuff. Documented deficiencies regarding the F-35 pilot’s helmet-mounted display and other aspects of the PVI are named, and the result could mean grave consequences.

“There is no confidence that the pilot can perform critical tasks safely,” the report reads.

The latest news regarding the F-35s comes less than one month after a separate incident forced the Department of Defense to ground their entire arsenal of the fighter jets. In February, jet makers Lockheed Martin issued a statement acknowledging that a routine inspection on a test plane at Edwards Air Force Base in California turned up cracked turbine blade.

“Safety is always our first consideration, and the joint inspection team is focused on ensuring the integrity of the engines across the entire fleet so the F-35s can safely return to flight as soon as possible,” the manufacture told the media. In response, Joint Program Office spokeswoman Kyra Hawn confirmed that all F-35 flight operations were suspended as a precautionary measure “until the investigation is complete and the cause of the blade crack is fully understood.” Just weeks later, though, a new report is already causing fresh problems for the F-35 program.

Each F-35 fighter jet is valued at $238 million and, according to recent estimates, the entire operation will cost the country $1 trillion in order to keep the jets up and running through 2050.

SOURCE: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/03/11/243047/

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

“F-35 basing data ‘fudged’,” by David Charns WPTZ April 14, 2013

“Is political influence driving F-35 decision?” Posted: Apr 14, 2013 6:00 PM EDT By WCAX News

“Leahy’s role questioned in bringing F-35 to Burlington,” by John Briggs, Burlington Free Press, April 15, 2013

“Globe Probes “Political Influence” in Vermont’s F-35 Selection,” by Paul Heintz, Seven Days, April 15, 2013, 8:46am

“Leahy Responds To F-35 ‘Preliminary Approval'” by Kirk Carapezza, April 15, 2013

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

F-35 Jets Grounded

The New York Times


February 22, 2013

Pentagon Orders F-35 Jets Grounded


The Pentagon said on Friday that it had grounded all of its stealthy new F-35 fighter jets after an inspection found a crack in a turbine blade in the engine of one of the planes.

The suspension of flights comes at an awkward time for the military, which is facing automatic budget cuts that could slow its purchases of the planes. The Pentagon grounded all three versions of the jets — for the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines — on Thursday while it investigated the problem.

Lockheed Martin, which makes the high-tech plane, said 64 of the jets would be affected. The Pentagon estimates that it could spend as much as $396 billion to buy 2,456 of the jets by the late 2030s. But the program, the most expensive in military history, has been plagued by cost overruns and delays, and it could easily become a target for budget cutters.

The Marines also had to suspend operation of their version from Jan. 18 through Feb. 13 because of a problem with a crimped hose in the fuel system.

The Pentagon office that runs the program said the crack in the turbine blade was discovered on Tuesday in a routine inspection. The crack occurred on a test plane at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The blade is being shipped to a plant in Connecticut, where the engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, will inspect it and look for the problem’s cause.

Matthew C. Bates, a spokesman for Pratt & Whitney, said none of the other F-35s had suffered any cracks. The F-35 program office in the Pentagon said in a statement that it had suspended the flights as a precaution until the investigation was completed and the cause of the cracking was fully understood.

The turbine problem, first reported by Politico Pro, arose as the Pentagon has sought to persuade Congress to cancel the automatic cuts, which could force the military to reduce its budgets by about $500 billion over the next 10 years. The first installment of the cuts is scheduled to start on Friday, and it may force the Pentagon to delay buying three of the approximately 30 F-35 planes it had planned to order this year.

“We don’t know the severity of the problem with the turbine blade,” said Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va. “It could be a one-off or it could be something that needs more attention. But either way, given the political scrutiny and the concerns about the plane’s cost and performance, this is a very bad time to have a problem.”

The F-35 was conceived as the Pentagon’s silver bullet in the sky — a state-of-the art aircraft with advances that would easily overcome the defenses of most foes. The radar-evading jets would dodge sophisticated antiaircraft missiles and give pilots a better picture of enemy threats while enabling allies, who want the planes, too, to fight more closely with American forces.

But the ambitious aircraft instead illustrates how the Pentagon can let huge and complex programs veer out of control. The program has run into other technical problems and nearly doubled in cost as Lockheed and the military’s own bureaucracy failed to deliver on the most basic promise of a three-in-one jet that would save taxpayers money and be delivered speedily.

Behind the scenes, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin had also engaged in a conflict of their own over the costs, though both sides now say that the relationship has improved and that the program is making progress. The number of test flights had picked up, and the Marines said before the grounding this week that they were about to shift from simply testing the planes to starting to fly them operationally.

The Pentagon had also reached new contracts recently with Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney that lowered the cost of each aircraft body and engine.

Mr. Bates, the Pratt & Whitney spokesman, said a similar turbine blade in an engine built for testing purposes also cracked in 2007. But he said the blade was redesigned after that, and this week’s failure did not appear to be related.

With all the delays — full production is not expected until 2019 — the military has spent billions to extend the lives of older fighters and buy more of them to fill the gap. At the same time, the cost to build each F-35 has risen to an average of $137 million from $69 million in 2001.

Winslow T. Wheeler, a former Senate staff member who is one of the plane’s biggest critics, said Friday that the program was still only about 30 percent through its testing. While the crack in the turbine blade may just be a minor flaw, he said, it is unlikely to pose a significant problem to continuing the program. “The Pentagon’s current management is hooked on the airplane and refuses to admit it is a failure,” he said.


RAND Corp: F35 Can’t Turn, Can’t Climb, Can’t Run

This video associated with the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) just came to our attention. The RAND corp has refuted some of the claims attributed to it in the video. Whether they said the F35s would be “clubbed like baby seals” by Russian and Chinese fighter planes remains unclear. It is clear that they do did dub the F35 as “double inferior” and one of their slides proclaims the F35 “Can’t Turn, Can’t Climb, Can’t Run”. For an in depth analysis of the blowback from this video see http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/The-F-35s-Air-to-Air-Capability-Controversy-05089/

The Golden Lemon Award Winner is …

The Golden Lemon Award has three winners this year, the F-35 “Lightning” fighter,…

At $395.7 billion, the F-35 is now the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history, and the costs are still rising. It has constant problems with its engine, “unexplained” hot spots on the fuselage, and software that doesn’t function properly. Because the cost of the plane has risen 70 percent since 2001, some of our allies are beginning to back away from previous commitments to purchase the aircraft. Canadians had some sticker shock when it turned out that the price tag for buying and operating the F-35 would be $45.8 billion. Steep price rises (and mechanical problems) have forced Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia to re-think buying the plane as well. If that happens, the price of the F-35 will rise even higher, since Lockheed Martin was counting on U.S. allies to buy at least 700 F-35s as a way to lower per-unit costs. The U.S. is scheduled to purchase 2,457 F-35s at $107 million apiece (not counting weapons). The plane coast $35,200 per hour to fly.

See the full story and get a laugh at http://www.fpif.org/blog/conn_hallinans_2012_are_you_serious_awards.

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

Air Force Official Slams Lockheed Martin on F-35 Program

The new deputy head of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program said his office’s relationship with plane manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) is “the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Air Force Major General Christopher Bogdan, on the job five weeks as deputy program executive officer, fired an unusual public salvo at the world’s largest defense contractor for what he described as a poor partnership in managing the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program.

“We will not succeed on this program until we get past that,” Bogdan said in a discussion on the F-35 at the annual conference of the Air Force Association, a nonprofit civilian organization that promotes aerospace education. “We have to find a better place to be in this relationship. We have to.”

See the full story at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-17/air-force-official-slams-lockheed-martin-on-f-35-program.html

Air Force Preps Trillion-Dollar Jet Tests Despite Pentagon Concerns

The latest high-level Pentagon review of the trillion-dollar F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program did not go well for the Lockheed Martin-built JSF. But don’t tell the Air Force that. The flying branch is racing ahead with its own JSF training and evaluation, regardless of the Defense Department’s hang-ups.

Last week’s Defense Acquisition Board review by senior Pentagon officials was meant to approve a comprehensive plan for completing the stealthy jet’s more than decade-long test effort, but in a “very painful” four hours, the officials could not agree on the plan, Reuters reported.

Check out the full story at http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/air-force-preps-f-35/

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.
(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.

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

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)