Daily Report

May 25, 2011

An Early Jolt of Lightning, Maybe

The Air Force could be in a position to deploy some of its F-35A strike fighters to combat even before the new stealth aircraft is formally declared ready for operations, Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, Air Staff lead for operations, plans,...

Lockheed Martin’s Time to Shine

Lockheed Martin is 20 percent ahead of it’s flight plan for all three variants of the F-35 strike fighter and 33 percent ahead of planned test points, Bob Stevens, company chairman and CEO, told reporters Tuesday. “There will not be...

SBIRS Satellite on Station

The Air Force’s first Space Based Infrared System geosynchronous satellite, GEO-1, has reached its intended operational orbit and is performing well, announced lead contractor Lockheed Martin Tuesday. “Successfully reaching orbit and conducting deployments is a tremendous milestone for the SBIRS...

Falcons Forever

The Air Force will retain its youngest F-16s through the end of the 2030s—at least 10 years longer than previously forecast, according to the Defense Department's 2011 Aircraft Procurement Plan. "Late-block F-16s will be modernized with improved radars, avionics, and electronic countermeasures, and will remain in the inventory through the 2030s," states this new version of the plan, which maps the years 2012 to 2041. In previous years, the Air Force has forecast the end of F-16 service as the mid 2020s, or, at the latest, 2030. The new report says most "legacy" fighters will be retired by 2041, and by then, the Pentagon "will have begun recapitalization of its fifth generation force" of F-22s and F-35s. Congress has mandated a 30-year, fixed-wing procurement plan each year; last year the Pentagon released the first edition. (2011 Aircraft Investment Plan)

Tanker High-Water Mark

The number of aerial tankers in the US military—ranging from Air Force KC-135s to Marine Corps KC-130s—will peak in Fiscal 2016, according to the Pentagon's newly issued Aircraft Procurement Plan for 2012-2041. The total tanker inventory will increase from 551 in Fiscal 2012 to 574 in Fiscal 2016, then drop suddenly to a steady-state level of between 535 and 542 aircraft through Fiscal 2021. The numbers reflect the retirement of some of the oldest KC-135s, delivery of USAF's initial KC-46As, and adjustments to the marines' inventory. (2011 Aircraft Investment Plan)

Only the Navy Gets Bridge Aircraft

The Pentagon’s latest Aircraft Procurement Plan notes that both the Air Force and Navy will experience a shortage of tactical aircraft in the coming decade. However, only the Navy will get aircraft procurement supplements to fill the gap. Due to its inventory shortfall, "the Navy will buy 67 F/A-18E/F aircraft" from Fiscal 2012 to Fiscal 2014 and the sea service will extend the tenure of its F/A-18Ds with structural and systems patches, states the Pentagon's report to Congress. Though the Air Force will fall some 200 aircraft short of needed tactical aircraft, it will "mitigate its shortfall until the 2020s via investments in the F-16 force," reads the document. (2011 Aircraft Investment Plan)

India’s China Question

While US concerns about China’s military modernization are well known, India has many of the same unanswered questions about its neighbor’s rapid military buildup and regional intentions, said Robert Blake, the State Department’s point man for South Asian affairs. The...

Thirty-five Percent or Bust

To maintain the US military's historical battlefield dominance, the nation should invest 35 percent of the annual defense budget in research, development, and procurement of new systems and technology, according to an Aerospace Industries Association report released Tuesday. "We're very concerned that research and development and procurement accounts that provide our men and women with the best technology will be disproportionately sacrificed to pay for the kind of cuts the nation is looking for," underscored AIA President Marion Blakey at the launch event in Washington, D.C., for Defense Investment: Finding the Right Balance. "Americans want to see our troops go into battle with a distinct edge—the edge of technology," stressed Blakey. She added that ample, consistent spending would avert the "dangerous and very costly peaks and valleys that have characterized" US weapons development and procurement since the 1950s. (Report full text; caution, large-sized file.)

Lockheed Martin Tackles Affordability

: Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Bob Stevens said Tuesday the company has made more than $500 million in cost reductions by consolidating facilities, divesting two businesses, reducing the senior employee ranks by 26 percent, and freezing executives salaries. Although...

Anatolian Viper Rebred

Lockheed Martin and partner Turkish Aerospace Industries rolled out the first Turkish-built F-16 Block 50 aircraft in a ceremony at TAI’s plant near Ankara, Turkey. “Lockheed Martin values the partnerships we have established with the Turkish government, military, and industry...

About That F-22 Sortie Record

April’s Daily Report entry on the 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, setting a single-day sortie record spawned much reader interest. Accordingly, we asked for more detail than in the Air Force’s original release. It turns out that...