June 16, 2024

Morning Coffee: Australia F-35 Buy Boosts Program

F-35B JSF air start

Morning Coffee is a robust blend of links to news around the internet concerning the Naval Air Station Patuxent River economic community. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Leader’s owners or staff.Morning Coffee logo

Australia’s recently announced plans to buy 58 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, the largest batch of F-35s acquired by an international partner, is a timely and important development for the program which recently had to delay some domestic procurement, reports Defense News. An industry analyst stated, “International buys could be the salvation of floundering program economics. Until now, you didn’t have anyone buying large numbers aside from South Korea, Japan and Israel. That’s why this is big — it’s the biggest and probably the best funded order to date.” The $11.5 billion deal is in addition to the purchase of 14 F-35s already approved by the Australian government, bringing the total order to 72 aircraft.

The wind turbine bill, which would establish a 13-month moratorium on the development of tall wind turbines within 56 miles of the NAS Patuxent River, still sits on Governor Martin O’Malley’s desk awaiting his signature or more likely, veto, reports WBAL. If he vetoes the bill the $273 million wind turbine project would go forward but if the bill becomes law, the wind farm developer says the project will be cancelled. The governor said Monday, “I have no announcement yet on a decision, but I have yet to be convinced why this bill is a good idea.” Mr. O’Malley indicated that his decision would be made “shortly.”

Despite recent good earnings news for federal defense contractors the 2016 sequestration budget cuts are eventually going to take their toll on industry profitability, according to National Defense. Even large businesses could be forced to merge to stay financially healthy even though the Pentagon opposes mergers of top prime contractors because it undermines competition. Linda Hudson, former BAE System CEO, says consolidations are already underway involving smaller firms and “without some significant change, we’re not that far from seeing that in tier one suppliers, too.”

The Senate removed an intelligence bill provision that required President Obama to disclose the number of people killed or injured each year in targeted operations in Pakistan and other countries where the US employs lethal force, according to The New York Times. There is continued resistance inside the government about exposing armed drone operations to public review. In a letter to the Senate earlier this month, James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, expressed his concern that a public report would undermine the effectiveness of the operations.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, says Congress will not allow the USS George Washington to be mothballed in 2016 despite Pentagon plans to do so in response to sequestration budget cuts, reports The Hill. Mr. Forbes said, “I am not worried that the United States is going to lose a carrier because I don’t think that’s going to happen. In every contingency operation planned, we have the carrier. [It] is the main thing the President of the United States is going to always ask, ‘Where are my carriers?’ We’re going to make sure that carrier is in there.”

Navy CIO Terry Halvorsen recently stated that the latest technology is not always the best solution, according to C4ISR & Networks. Mr. Halvorsen said, “Cutting-edge technology may bring useful new capability, but cutting-edge costs money – usually lots of money. These days, money is something the Department of the Navy doesn’t have a lot of.” Some high-tech options are best, he said, such as moving low-risk data to a commercial-run cloud, which the Navy did last year. That move came after an extensive business-case analysis, an approach that the Navy is expanding as service executives determine the most effective ways to meet budget goals..

Boeing’s participation in the Navy competition for the next generation carrier-based UCLASS drone was protested by anti-war activists in Chicago, according to Progress Illinois. Protestors with the Anti-War Committee gathered outside of Chicago’s Field Museum, where Boeing’s shareholders meeting was being held, to urge the company to build something better than “deadly weapons.”

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America want a monument in downtown Washington to recognize their sacrifices in the war on terrorism but are blocked by a rule that says a conflict must be over at least 10 years before a memorial can be authorized, reports The Washington Times. The fight against terrorism is “never ending” and even as fighting winds down in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans can’t define an end date. Lauren Augustine, a member of the veterans organization’s legislative team, said, “One of the things that’s very difficult is, because these aren’t technically declared wars, they’re operations of the global war on terror, it’s difficult to fit the statutes.”

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