Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Flying Edsel

Here's a classic example of a pork barrel political boondoggle that eats up our defense budget while doing little to enhance our national security, and even less to protect our troops on the ground.
The Obama White House is threatening to veto the annual defense authorization bill proposed by the U.S. Senate, in part because it moves to save aircraft...
And which aircraft might those be?
Tuesday's message from the Office of Management and Budget, which said it would recommend vetoing the bill if it passed both chambers of Congress, continues the Obama administration's push to retire A10 aircraft within several years. (emphasis added)
A provision in the defense authorization bill prohibits retirement of the A10s.
The OMB said such a prohibition restricting the Defense Department's ability to ground the aircraft and requiring an independent study into the capabilities of the aircraft puts at risk efforts to modernize the Air Force fleet since the Pentagon believes "the Joint Strike Fighter and other multi-mission aircraft will replace the A10's singular mission of close air support."
Not everyone shares that belief.
The fact that the USAF is so willing to throw away 300 of the finest close air support platforms ever invented just to save the cost equivalent of 30 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters is total bullshit and both the American taxpayer and those who bravely fight our wars on the ground should be furious.

The Air Force wants to "replace" the A-10 some time in the future, hopefully, with something not nearly as "elegant," to use their own words, but still capable of the basic close air support (CAS) mission. Elegant is not a term not usually associated with this brutish killing machine, but there is little doubt that the Warthog accomplishes its mission with almost an artistic flare. This "something" the USAF brass touts is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In the meantime, our soldiers will be left getting close air support from "adequate" high-performance fighter aircraft, Predator and Reaper unmanned systems, and huge aircraft built originally as strategic bombers.
As for the 'multi-mission Joint Strike Fighter' (the F-35) intended to replace the A-10, it is pork barrel politics at its finest.
The Pentagon envisioned the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as an affordable, state-of-the-art stealth jet serving three military branches and U.S. allies.

Instead, the Lockheed Martin Corp. aircraft has been plagued by a costly redesign, bulkhead cracks, too much weight, and delays to essential software that have helped put it seven years behind schedule and 70 percent over its initial cost estimate. At almost $400 billion, it’s the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history.

It is also the defense project too big to kill. The F-35 funnels business to a global network of contractors that includes Northrop Grumman Corp. and Kongsberg Gruppen ASA of Norway. It counts 1,300 suppliers in 45 states supporting 133,000 jobs -- and more in nine other countries, according to Lockheed. The F-35 is an example of how large weapons programs can plow ahead amid questions about their strategic necessity and their failure to arrive on time and on budget.

“It’s got a lot of political protection,” said Winslow Wheeler, a director at the Project on Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information in Washington. “In that environment, very, very few members of Congress are willing to say this is an unaffordable dog and we need to get rid of it.”
Here's a suggestion. Ask the grunts on the ground which they'd rather see overhead during a firefight - a low and slow flying Gatling gun or a shiny pointy-nosed flying Swiss army knife plagued with numerous and ongoing significant problems, including an inability to fly if its fuel gets warm - like what would happen if fuel trucks sit in the hot sun in an operating area like, oh, I don't know - maybe the Mid-East...

Can you say boondoggle...?


Randy H said...

I have also read some things that current enemy craft (chicoms) can outfly and our maneuver this thing. pretty disgusting to say the least.

Old NFO said...

One more F-111...

Well Seasoned Fool said...

The Edsel needs to be killed. The F-111 was a Robert Strange McNamara wet dream bean counter special but was at least a decent low level bomber. Ask the Libyans.

CenTexTim said...

Randy - more info on that here.

NFO - Yep, and at a time when we (1) can't afford to waste the money, and (2) really need to step up our air superiority capabilities in the face of China's military expansion.

WSF - agreed.