Daily Report

June 17, 2010

Gates Targets “Unneeded” C-17s, Alternate F-35 Engine

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday cautioned lawmakers not to underestimate the Obama Administration's resolve in halting development of the F136 engine for the F-35 strike fighter in Fiscal 2011. He also came out anew against Congress adding money for any more C-17s. "Let me be very clear. I will continue to strongly recommend that the President veto any legislation that sustains the continuation of the C-17 or the F-35 extra engine," Gates told Senate defense appropriators. Last week, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), House Armed Services Committee chairman, implied that the White House might not follow through on the veto threat over the F136 because the same defense legislation likely will also contain language enabling the repeal of the Pentagon's don't ask-don't tell policy, which Obama favors. Gates countered this Wednesday, saying, "It would be a serious mistake to believe the President would accept these unneeded programs simply because the authorization and appropriations legislation includes other provisions important to him and his Administration." (Gates prepared remarks)

F136 Probably Not Meeting Standards, Gates Claims

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday revealed a new reason why the Pentagon wants to drop the General Electric-Rolls Royce F-136 engine from the F-35 strike fighter program: its performance. “We think that the current engine that GE is offering...

About That Alternate Engine Performance:

General Electric-Rolls Royce issued a statement shortly after the hearing refuting Gates' comments (see: Gates Questions F136 Performance, above). "The Secretary's comments contradict the detailed assessment from the Department of Defense, which has consistently awarded very good and excellent ratings to the F136," reads an excerpt. The Pentagon wants to ax the F136 in favor of Pratt & Whitney's F135 as the sole powerplant for the F-35, but the F136 program continues to enjoy strong support on Capitol Hill. (GE-Rolls Royce statement)

Ballistic, Yes, Non-Ballistic, No

Conventionally armed ICBMs or submarine-launched ballistic missiles will fall under the counting rules for launchers under the New START Treaty with Russia, James Miller, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday. However, since the US has already concluded they "should be limited to a niche capability," the US will still be able to retain "a robust nuclear triad" even with conventional missiles counting toward the treaty's limits, he said. The Obama Administration submitted the treaty to the Senate in May for ratification. New START would allow the US and Russia each up to 800 nuclear launchers (i.e., ICBMs, SLBMs, heavy bombers), 700 of which may be deployed. Miller said DOD is also exploring conventionally-armed, long-range systems not associated with ICBMs or SLBMs that fly non-ballistic trajectories, such as boost-glide systems. He said the US would not consider such systems to be accountable under the treaty. (Miller prepared statement)

Air Force Stages Minuteman Test Launch

The Air Force on Wednesday conducted a Minuteman III ICBM flight test from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., over the Pacific Ocean. According to officials with Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing, the missile’s single unarmed re-entry test vehicle traveled approximately 4,190 miles before...

Bagram Bird Radar Up and Running

Air traffic controllers at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, are now using a system called Merlin to help aircraft operating from the base avoid birds during takeoff and landing. Merlin is an all-weather, portable S-band radar system that is able to scan...

CSI Kandahar

The US military maintains a joint combat assessment team at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, which assesses aircraft battle damage. This can include battle damage suffered by any US fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft. The work yields insights on the enemy and ultimately...

USAF Aircraft at Berlin Airshow

Six Air Force aircraft were on display at the Berlin Air Show in the German capital from June 8-13. Approximately 90 aircrew and support personnel accompanied the B-1, B-52, C-5, C-17, C-130J, and KC-135 and took visitors on tours of...

Air Sorties from SWA 060510

Air Sorties in Southwest Asia, June 5-8, 2010 Sortie Type OIF OEF OIF/OEF Total YTD ISR 93 108 312 10,281 CAS/Armed Recon 50 317 367 14,964 Airlift 650 650 27,273 Air refueling 106 106 6,958 Rescue 120 120 2,928 Total...