Thursday, March 14, 2013

You Know a Project is in Trouble When Even the Air Force Times Knows that the F-35 is a Boondoggle

WASHINGTON — Significant visibility issues could lead to dangerous flight conditions, according to test pilots who have flown the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. 
That is just one of several issues identified by the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester in a February report, published online (PDF) today by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight. 
Other issues include flawed radar, ongoing challenges with the high-tech helmet required to fly the jet, and potential issues with the touch screen control interface... 
Inspectors offered up five major categories of training tasks that are normally included in the fighter transition syllabus for other jets. Of those five, only one category was accomplished fully; two others were accomplished partially, and two were not accomplished due to system immaturity. 
Additionally, testers found eight “serious” risk areas that need to be dealt with in the jet. Those range from a lack of flight test hours increasing the risk of a Class A mishap to the potential failure of the ejection seat in use with low-rate initial production (LRIP) 2 and 3 production craft.
Something for the ghetto nerd military grognards.

When the "newspaper" of the United States Air Force says something is wrong with a plane, you really know the jig is up.

The F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor fighters are a high-low mix of wasted money. They are technologies, that by many expert accounts, are not mature, designed for a Cold War battle that ended some time ago, and ill-timed as the last generation of manned fighters before fully autonomous drones take over the glorious role that is he (or she) who drives the Cadillac(s) of the sky.

If I were 11 years old and going to the library to read the Jane's guides to military weapons and equipment, staying up late at night with my various military war porn trade magazines, and war-gaming how to defend the Fulda Gap, fight off a Red Dawn style invasion, and protect Iceland from the Soviets in the video game Harpoon or the novel Red Dawn, the F-22 and F-35 fighters would be in my dreams.

How can any thinking, reasonable person not want modern day Star Wars X-Wing fighters to defend American democracy and our "way of life!" Easy. These planes do not work as designed and are a catastrophic waste of money for the American tax payer.

Here, we could easily talk about the military industrial complex and Eisenhower's prescient warning about the relationship between interest groups, the Pentagon, and Congress which results in a conspiracy of riches that lines the pockets of a few people at the expense of the many.

Ultimately, with two planes that collectively cost at least 500 billion dollars, Eisenhower's warnings are clear and damning.

But what of the material and financial impact of these unneeded and semi-functioning weapons systems on the American economy generally, and local communities, specifically?
Here The Washington Post observes how:
When the F-35 program was first approved by the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin said it could develop and manufacture 2,852 planes for $233 billion. The Pentagon now estimates the total price tag at $397.1 billion. And that is for 409 fewer planes.
The overall program is almost four times more costly than any other weapons system under development. Taxpayers have already spent $84 billion on the plane’s design and initial production. By contrast, the production of 18,000 B-24 bombers during World War II cost less than $60 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars.
“This aircraft reinforces the way Americans go to war. . . .We don’t want to win 51-49. We want to win 99 to nothing,” said Lt. Gen. Frank Gornec, the assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force. He said he is convinced the F-35 “will become a superstar in the arsenal of the United States.”
Many independent defense analysts do not share that conviction. To them, the plane’s political engineering and buy-before-you-fly procurement mask deep problems with performance and affordability.
“It was a bait-and-switch operation; we were overpromised benefits and under-promised costs,” said Chuck Spinney, a former Pentagon analyst who gained widespread attention in the 1980s for issuing pointed warnings about the military’s pursuit of unaffordable weapons. “But by the time you realize the numbers don’t add up, you can’t get out of the program.”
None of the parties involved with the F-35 can escape from the path dependency which comes with expenditures in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Most of these same parties do not want to escape anyway.

The United States, from the the post World War Two era to the present, is a national security state.

Moreover, the United States economy subsidizes its public across class lines: employment in the defense industry is one means of doing this.

While many on the Right complain about the "takers" as opposed to "the makers", it is actually Red State America which is highly subsidized by the federal government. In addition, many communities around the country are disproportionate beneficiaries of what is known as "the submerged state." The latter being a fat government tit from which the middle and upper classes in the form of lucrative government contracts, and other subsidies that form the foundation of many local and state economies, sucks.

Do not misunderstand my claim: I support a robust national defense.

I am also a realist and a bit of a hawk. I am concerned that the United States, we the people, are wasting money lining the pockets of lobbyists, congressmen, and others who are receiving both direct and indirect payments for machines of death that do not function as designed.

The grotesque waste of resources which are/have been expended on the F-22 and F-35 could be better spent elsewhere on real security--improved infrastructure and schools; weapons which actually work as designed, for example--and in the service of the long-term Common Good and a proper social safety net.

Weapons equal jobs. I understand that basic calculus. But, how can we sell the American people real security, a state of national affairs that leaves us strong at home, but also able to secure resources, land, territory, and trade abroad? Is such a balance possible?

For those so inclined, what would you do now? Cancel the F-35 program? Sue the contractors? Or invest in updating the current fleet of F-16s, A-10s, AV-8s, EA-6s, and F-18s until UAV technology matures? The F-35 is a fact. Now, we the American people have to figure out how to deal with it.


Invisible Man said...

and meanwhile........reporting back in urban America, The President pledges to join with the Republicans to cut more "wasteful spending" in social progams to battle the federal debt.

And the Governor say there is no money for nothing and on the local scene, Shaquita('s) grand mother just got shot for the third time while being robbed at the Currency Exchange by her down stairs neighbor, 8 year old Tyroll aka "Lil Man" Jefferson who dropped out of school because he's too LAZY to travel to a new school six miles away in rival gang territory, after the Mayor closed down his school, around the way. Next up is sports!

chauncey devega said...

Got to connect the dots. The priorities which the State places on unnecessary weapons is a basic guns and butter issue. I am sure you have watched Ike's prescient warning about the military industrial complex.

Perhaps, you can become a superhero who can save the urban denizens in 'the hood?

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CNu said...

the United States economy subsidizes its public across class lines: employment in the defense industry is one means of doing this.

Across class, temperament, behavioral and intellectual lines, as well. How else you going to keep the "warriors", physicists and engineers gainfully employed and away from potential mischief?

Lockheed Martin is playing its part in that very long-running make-work game - warrior-scholars contrive make-believe "missions", nerds set about the food-powered, make-work hierarchical business of developing systems to accomodate those hypothetical missions. Keeps all these otherwise potentially ungovernable or restive lads out of trouble.

This vital killer-ape governance system is now at risk due to the peak in available net energy and the disastrous effects that that is having on all the economies of the developed world.

CNu said...

Shaquita an'em don't make a dayyum thing except dooky, noise, eyesores, and a public nuisance...., not only is school for "Lil man" neither fun or interesting, it's not even safe or predictable.

This is so basic that you can't even get the catholic church to look sympathetically and try and intervene in what's become of the self-inflicted nihilism in the hood.

Meanwhile, the food-powered make-work governance hierarchy that is Lockheed Martin has been so thoroughly shook by sequestration and pending austerity measures, that it's beginning to trot out some of its reserve "green gas" systems in an effort to make itself more broadly relevant.

chauncey devega said...

It is funny how so many undergrads and even some professionals do not want to admit how subsidized their intellectual work is by the DOD and others.

The research at Yale about interrogation techniques which caused some upset by some a few weeks back is at least refreshing because of the transparency--at least superficially--involved. Folks act like these relationships are new.

chauncey devega said...

How little boys are made into "lil' men" and ironically baby boys who are semi-permanently infantilized by the single mothers who raise them, are made into stand-ins as the "man of the house" at 11, and then leave said baby momma to shack up with another group of women who he spreads his seed to without marriage or commitment--and said women then support him--is another part of the hot mess in many of our communities (urban and rural) that no one wants to deal with either.

Whole generations of boys have been told they are men when they are kids, feminized in the worst possible ways to be hyper emotional and reactionary, and contribute no resources to their communities and siphon off of the few productive people who live there and the tax payers. As I say often, Moynihan was right in so many ways.

Sad. Really.