“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, September 18, 2015

How Lockheed-Martin Ate The Pentagon

Michael Byers: The F-35 is now unaffordable thanks to the low Canadian dollar

 |  | Last Updated: Sep 18 1:29 PM ET
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An F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), is seen as it arrives at Edwards Air Force Base in California in this May 2010 file photograph.
REUTERS/Tom Reynolds/Lockheed Martin Corp/Handout/FilesAn F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), is seen as it arrives at Edwards Air Force Base in California in this May 2010 file photograph.
The Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) hoped-for-purchase of F-35 fighter jets has hit another obstacle, in the form of a Canadian dollar that has dropped 25 per cent against its U.S. counterpart since 2013. Another, less expensive, non-developmental plane will now need to be chosen to replace the three decade-old CF-18s.
The cost of the F-35 first became an issue in 2010 when the Harper government announced it would acquire 65 of the planes for $9 billion, with a total project cost of $16 billion. The Canadian dollar was then at US$0.96.
After the 2011 election, Auditor General Michael Ferguson revealed that the Harper government had been operating with two different cost projections for the F-35, with the internal estimate being $10 billion higher than the number provided publicly.
The Harper government responded by suspending the procurement, ordering the RCAF to conduct an “options analysis” of the F-35 and alternative aircraft, and setting a $9 billion limit for acquisition cost.
The Harper government also commissioned KPMG to clarify the cost of 65 F-35s. In November 2012, the accounting firm came up with a total project cost of $45.8 billion. The Canadian dollar was then at US$1.01.
In November 2014, the Department of National Defence (DND) released an update on the F-35 procurement that estimated the same total project cost as KPMG, namely $45.8 billion. It arrived at that number using an exchange rate of US$0.92.
Here’s the bottom line: the total cost of the F-35 program is now $49 billion — an increase of $3.2 billion from the projections provided by KPMG in 2012 and DND in 2014.
In its update, DND also acknowledged that changes in the exchange rate were a “major, uncontrollable risk to the program cost estimate.” It went on to explain that an exchange rate of US$0.755 would raise the acquisition cost by approximately $1.7 billion and the sustainment cost by approximately $2.6 billion. Sustainment costs, incurred during major repairs and upgrades, are affected by the exchange rate because this work is conducted by the F-35’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, in the U.S.
By happenstance, the Canadian dollar has been hovering around US$0.755 for the last few weeks. This means that 65 F-35s would now cost $10.7 billion — well above the $9 billion acquisition cost limit set by the Harper government — and that the sustainment cost would now be $16.86 billion, up from $14.26 billion.
On the positive side, the operating cost for a fleet of F-35s has decreased by $1.15 billion (from $20.75 billion to $19.6 billion), due to a 30 percent drop in the cost of jet fuel since November 2014. According to DND, every 10 per cent reduction in the cost of fuel reduces the life-cycle operating cost by $382 million.
Here’s the bottom line: the total cost of the F-35 program is now $49 billion — an increase of $3.2 billion from the projections provided by KPMG in 2012 and DND in 2014. This includes all acquisition, sustainment and operating costs and assumes that development, disposal and attrition costs have not changed.
Is it any wonder that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has avoided mentioning the need for new fighter jets recently? For this $3.2 billion in additional costs will require a tough decision by any prime minister committed to balanced budgets.
One option is to purchase only 54 F-35s, which is all that $9 billion can now buy. The problem is, the RCAF has stated that it requires a minimum of 65 fighter jets.
Another option is to divert the $3.2 billion from other military projects. But the Harper government has already cut defence spending to one per cent of GDP, the lowest level in half a century.
Fred Thornhill / Reuters
Fred Thornhill / ReutersPrime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to employees at Virtek Vision International Inc., which deals with lasers and manufacturing the materials used in the new F35 fighter jet.
A third option is to purchase a less expensive plane. For instance, a fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets would cost about $6.5 billion at the current exchange rate, and would be significantly cheaper to operate and sustain than a fleet of F-35s.
Unlike Harper, who has not revealed his current plan, both opposition leaders are committed to a full competition for new aircraft to replace the CF-18s. Yet any such competition would be constrained by a budgetary ceiling and a baseline number of planes, which — given current circumstances — would preclude the F-35 from the outset.
It is certainly possible to envisage a competition involving one or more European-made fighter jets, but their already-high costs have also risen — due to a sharp decline in the value of the Canadian dollar against the Euro.
Although untendered procurements are far from optimal, a sole-source purchase of Super Hornets now seems likely. It might, in the end, deliver the very planes that Canada should have bought in a more organized and logical manner.
The fact is, Harper took a reckless approach to replacing the CF-18s. He could have held a fair competition at the outset, and bought a proven model of fighter jet on-time and on-budget. Instead, he reached for the latest and most expensive technology, took on a significant cost risk, and got burned.
National Post
Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia.


  1. Confronted with the harsh reality of what the F-35 multirole fighter can and cannot do, the US Air Force finally admitted that the $400 billion project gave birth to an aircraft that cannot dogfight.

    The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is not a maneuverability airplane and it was not designed for close combat, National Defense magazine quoted head of the Air Force's Air Combat Command General Herbert Carlisle as saying.

    But this statement runs contrary to what the US Air Force and Lockheed Martin, the developer of the plane, used to say about the fifth-generation stealth plane. They tried to present the F-35 as more effective in air combat than other aircraft in the US arsenal.
    “By mid-2015, evidence was mounting that the heavy, complex Joint Strike Fighter – which the Pentagon expects to attack targets on the ground and in the air with equal aplomb – can't turn or accelerate fast enough to win in a dogfight against current fighters, to say nothing of future fighters that might be even more maneuverable," defense analyst David Axe observed.

    The inability to survive an aerial fight at close quarters might not seem like a big deal. After all, the most expensive piece of military hardware ever built was designed to perform long distance tasks.

    But consider this: the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is meant to replace approximately 90 percent of America's tactical air fleet at a time when China and Russia are actively developing advanced dogfighters.

    The Pentagon might think that the aircraft will not be engaged in close fighting but history offers an example of how these hopes could be shattered.
    Almost half a century ago the F-4 Phantoms were sent on missions in Vietnam without the guns needed for dogfights because the US Defense Department did not think it was necessary. Nevertheless, they found themselves fighting at close quarters against North Vietnamese MiG-21s and losing.

    Read more:

  2. Single engine vertical takeoff and landing fat piece of crap.

    Cost over runs ? Noooooooo.....sireeeeee.......hehehe

    Junk it.

    1. On the other hand, if the Israeli Air Force likes it maybe it's not so bad.....

    2. It's possible the purchases are the result of the GOP Likuds Force sucking up to Uncle Sam, and Lockheed....

    3. Obama picks perv to be Secretary of the Army -

    4. A tranny to lead the Marine Corps (Marine Corpse, in Obama lingo), that's next -


  3. Opinion Commentary

    The Rubble of Obama’s Syria Policy
    I kept asking why the administration wasn’t doing more to help my people. Then the Iran deal came through, and I knew.
    The aftermath of a reported airstrike by Syrian-regime forces in the rebel-held area of Douma, near Damascus, Aug. 30. ENLARGE
    The aftermath of a reported airstrike by Syrian-regime forces in the rebel-held area of Douma, near Damascus, Aug. 30. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
    By Kassem Eid
    Sept. 17, 2015 7:05 p.m. ET

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was meeting with high-level Obama administration officials in Washington, D.C., two months after escaping Syria in February 2014, and I had just described to them all the horrors I had seen: the torture of protesters, the rape of women, the bombardment of civilians, the barrel bombs, the massacres, the sieges, the starvation, and the gassing of hundreds of innocents with sarin in August 2013. I had recounted how I barely survived those sarin attacks and the siege of my hometown, Moadamiya, near Damascus; and how, by some miracle, I managed to trick the regime into letting me leave Syria.

    Now, I was asking the officials to take simple steps, to do something, anything, that would protect the millions of civilians I had left behind from further starvation and slaughter. But as I pressed these officials for answers, their replies grew increasingly divorced from the Syrian conflict:

    Why couldn’t there be military action to protect civilians? The reply: The U.S. is helping Syrians through humanitarian and nonlethal means. Me: Thanks for your generosity, but can Band-Aids take down a fighter jet as it bombs civilians? Them: President Bashar Assad’s air-defense systems are too strong for a no-fly zone. Me: Then how does Israel keep bombing the regime? Them: The U.S. wants to avoid a military solution. We also need to stabilize the whole region. Me: Assad’s barrel bombs and starvation sieges are driving extremism, I’ve seen it with my own eyes—you call that stabilizing the region?

    In this meeting and in numerous other meetings with people familiar with Mr. Obama’s personal thinking—at the State Department, with Democrats in Congress, at the White House—we would eventually reach a moment of honesty when someone would say, in effect: President Obama does not wish to upset the Iranians.............

    You might notice this refugee was advocating the very things Bob was advocating before he was summarily silenced by the cries of "War Monger!" from Quirk, Ash, and others....

    The whole fiasco lies directly at the feet of Quirk....

  4. I'm assuming that it was the same guys that made all the same arguments against the F-22.

    Now, the only question that's ever asked is, "why didn't we build more of them?"

  5. .

    The F-35 is an object lesson in FUBAR.

    The original concept, all things to everyone, was just a step too far. It was too complicated and required too many compromises. It took too long to develop (20 years) and won't be fully deployed until 2019. Over that time, new systems were developed and added increasing the complexity and the chances of things going wrong.

    Designed for the many, it is the master of none. It is overweight, under-powered, slow, and lacks weapons capability. By 2019, the Russians and the Chinese with have 5th generation planes, stealthy, fast, and powerful. Some have suggested that photos of one of the Chinese planes bears similarities to the F-35 which may suggest military espionage.

    The F-35 like the F-22 were designed to fight at a distance not engage in dog fights. In close-in combat they have proved vulnerable in simulated exercises with our allies, the F-35 in dog-fights with French aircraft and the F-22 in dog-fights with the Germans. Some will argue that the US planes can avoid any up close combat situations. However, this become increasingly difficult in a crowded theater.

    In addition, one of the compromises forced on the F-35 was the limited weapons systems it was able to contain. If those weapons systems fail (or are exhausted) the F-35 would again be vulnerable (presumably even more so with the introduction of new 5th generation planes after 2019).

    The US better hang on to the F-22 (something that has become harder as I pointed out yesterday) and some of the other planes the F-35 was supposed to replace (the F-10', F-16's, etc).


    1. .

      The cost of the F-35 program puts to lie the idea that you always get what you pay for.


  6. The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have leapt to the defence of the expensive F-35 stealth jet after it was embarrassingly outperformed by a 40-year-old F-16 jet in a dogfight.
    A mock air battle was held over the Pacific Ocean between the cutting-edge F-35 - meant to be the most sophisticated jet ever - and an F-16, which was designed in the 1970s.
    But according to the test pilot, the F-35 is still too slow to hit an enemy plane or dodge gunfire. So far, it has cost the US military more than $350billion.
    Now its producers have hit back - saying the aircraft used in the test was not equipped to the same standard of its front-line aircraft - and did not have its 'stealth coating'.

    Read more:
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    1. In a statement released online, the Joint Program Office claimed the aircraft did not have the software needed to use its sensors to locate its enemy.
      'Second, AF-2 does not have the special stealth coating that operational F-35s have that make them virtually invisible to radar.

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    2. 'And third, it is not equipped with the weapons or software that allow the F-35 pilot to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target.'
      The dogfight, which was staged in January near Edwards Air Force Base, California, was . . . .

      Read more:
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    3. .

      We would be fools not to learn from the missteps and errors made during the development of this system; we would be greater fools not to deploy the best available all-around air weapon that the world has ever known.

      The best?

      Actually, it’s the only available all-around air weapon that the world has ever known. No one else has been willing to accept the compromises necessary to get an “all-around air weapon”.

      For those old enough to remember the reference, the F-35 is the Flub-a-Dub of air weapons.


  7. As for Canada, well, let's keep our Kanuck buddies in perspective. It's a large country, geographically, but one with a population, and, one would assume, an economy about the size of California. There's a limit to how many High Tech Weapons such a country can afford.

    1. .

      It was about 5 years ago that I started following the F-35 saga. The reason was an expose on the plane I saw either on 60 Minutes or the CBC. It went into the ongoing development problems with the F-35 but a good portion of the program dealt with the Canadian program, with the pressure all US allies were getting to get on board with the program, and with the corruption or at least misrepresentation involved in the cost estimates presented to the Canadian parliament.

      The program also contained interviews with test pilots and with the guy responsible for the F-16 and F-10 development programs who explained the serious compromises involved in coming up with a one size fits all plane.


  8. .

    Cat Fight Turns Into Bar Fight at the Republican Leadership Conference

    An alleged physical altercation in a bar between two presidential campaign staffers cast an ugly shadow over the start of the Republican Leadership Conference on Michigan's Mackinac Island, where a slew of presidential candidates are gathering for a weekend cattle call.

    John Yob, a Michigan political consultant working for Rand Paul, says he was punched in the face late Thursday by Marco Rubio's deputy campaign manager, Rich Beeson, at the nearby Horn's Bar. Yob, who is national political director and chief strategist of Paul's Michigan campaign, quickly took to Facebook to publicize the incident and demand that Rubio fire Beeson.

    Read more:


    1. John Yob is a way overpaid big fat slow guy who can't fire a punch and who took his stealth coat off when entering the bar and deserved a big hit right on the chin. He ain't no dog fighter.