USAF on the downturn?

Jerry1

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Read this story and found it interesting. Looks like the vaunted Air force is seeing hard times ahead.

Aging Air Force wants big bucks fix By RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 22 minutes ago



WASHINGTON - Air Force officials are warning that unless their budget is increased dramatically, and soon, the military's high-flying branch won't dominate the skies as it has for decades.

After more than six years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Air Force's aging jet fighters, bombers, cargo aircraft and gunships are at the breaking point, they say, and expensive, ultramodern replacements are needed fast.

"What we've done is put the requirement on the table that says, 'If we're going to do the missions you're going to ask us to do, it will require this kind of investment,'" Maj. Gen. Paul Selva, the Air Force's director of strategic planning, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Failing that, we take what is already a geriatric Air Force," Selva said, "and we drive it for another 20 years into an area of uncertainty."

An extra $20 billion each year over the next five — beginning with an Air Force budget of about $137 billion in 2009 instead of the $117 billion proposed by the Bush administration — would solve that problem, according to Selva and other senior Air Force officers.

Yet the prospects for huge infusions of cash seem dim. Congress is expected to boost the 2009 budget, but not to the level urged by the Air Force. In the years that follow, a possible recession, a rising federal deficit and a distaste for higher taxes all portend a decline in defense spending regardless of which party wins the White House in November.

"The Air Force is going to be confronting a major procurement crisis because it can't buy all the things that it absolutely needs," said Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller. "It's going to force us to rethink, yet again, what is the strategy we want? What can we give up?"

The Air Force's distress is partly self-inflicted, says Steve Kosiak of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. The F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning, the new jet fighters that will supplant the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Falcon, have drastically higher price tags than their predecessors and require a bigger chunk of the defense budget.

"One of the reasons their equipment has aged so much is because they continue to move ahead with the development and presumed acquisition of new weapon systems that cost two to three times as much as the systems they are replacing," Kosiak said. "It's like replacing a Toyota with a Mercedes."

It's not as if the Air Force has gone without any new airplanes. The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, the C-17 Globemaster airlifter and the CV-22 tilt-rotor, which flies like a helicopter or an airplane, have all been added since the mid-1990s.

The Air Force also is planning to spend between $30 billion and $40 billion over the next 15 years for new refueling tankers. A contract is expected to be awarded soon. Those new tankers, however, won't be flying until 2013.

The Air Force isn't alone in wanting more money, but its appetite is far greater than the other military branches. Shortly after President Bush submitted his defense plan for the 2009 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, each service outlined for Congress what it felt was left out. The Air Force's "wish list" totaled $18.8 billion, almost twice as much as the other three services combined.

"There's no justification for it. Period. End of story," said Gordon Adams, a former Clinton administration budget official who specializes in defense issues. "Until someone constrains these budget requests, the hunger for more will charge ahead unchecked."

Current F-15s and F-16s are on average more than 20 years old and have reached a point where spending more money on extensive repairs is a poor investment, Selva said. Originally designed to last 4,000 flying hours, both have been extended beyond 8,000.

An F-15 with a comparatively low 5,000 flying hours disintegrated during a routine training flight over Missouri in early November. For the Air Force, that crash has become a touchstone event that demonstrates the precarious state of a fleet collectively older than any in the service's 60-year history.

Following the Missouri accident, more than 400 F-15s were grounded as Air Force mechanics scoured them for defects that might cause a similar accident. The F-15, a twin-engine jet with a top speed of 1,875 miles per hour, is the anchor of the nation's air defense network.

As aircraft age, corrosion eats away at metal parts. Wiring and sealing begin to deteriorate. The fatigue, which can be hard to detect, is most acute in fighters that make turns while going at incredible speeds.

"An hour is not an hour" to an aircraft constantly under the strain of G-forces, Gen. John D.W. Corley, head of Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va., said at a news conference last month. "It's like dog years."

The more an aircraft is flown, the more expensive and more extensive maintenance becomes, Corley and Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the Air Force chief of staff, told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee during a Feb. 6 hearing.

The bottom line, the generals said, is older aircraft are in the shop more often and cost more to fly when they are available.

It's not just the fighters that are elderly.

Selva, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1980, said he remembers hearing about the first flight of the mammoth C-5 transport when he was in first grade. B-52 bombers and KC-135 tankers, which refuel airplanes in flight, have been in the inventory for more than four decades.

And mechanics are finding it difficult to keep rust off the A-10 Thunderbolt, a tank-killing plane now a quarter-century old.

"If you want to accept that today we're doing an adequate job with this sort of patchwork of airplanes, when are we no longer able to do an adequate job?" Selva asked. "What's the next thing that's going to happen?"

Each F-22 Raptor costs about $160 million. The Air Force says it needs 381 of the radar-evading planes and is fighting to keep the production line from being shut down too soon.

"We have never rolled off of the requirement to field 381 F-22s," Selva said. "The real issue at play with the F-22 is when the line closes, it's closed. Restarting the line will be unreasonably expensive."

The price for a single F-35 Lightning is $77 million, and the Air Force wants close to 1,800 of these fighters. The F-35 won't be in use for several more years.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said only 183 Raptors are needed. The more Raptors the Air Force buys, Gates said during congressional testimony earlier this month, the less money it will have for the F-35 and other aircraft. About 100 F-22s have been fielded. That aircraft has not been used in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gates added.

The Air Force says the Raptors are needed for future threats, with China, Russia and Iran at the top of the list.

"Al-Qaida doesn't exactly have an advanced aerial defense system," said Maj. David Small, an Air Force spokesman.

The public push for more Raptors prompted Gates to rebuke a top Air Force officer, Gen. Bruce Carlson, who said last week that the service remained committed to buying 381 of the aircraft. In a Friday statement, Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said the general's remarks did not reflect the Air Force's position. But the statement did not say the service is backing away from its goal of 381 Raptors.

Aircraft on the front lines in the terror war are also facing challenges.

Officials at Air Force Special Operations Command say it will become increasingly hard to keep two key aircraft flying: The MC-130H Combat Talon II, used to drop commandos into hostile territory and then retrieve them, and the AC-130U, a hulking gunship that flies low to deliver firepower, are both in need of substantial overhauls.

"We are literally flying the wings off these two airplanes," said Brig. Gen. Brad Heithold, director of the command's plans, programs, requirements and assessments office at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

There are only 20 Combat Talons and 17 AC-130Us. This small fleet is in heavy demand by special operations forces around the globe. In 2001, the AC-130Us flew just over 5,200 hours. The gunships logged more than 9,000 hours in 2007. It's comparable, Heithold said, to putting 70,000 miles on a car in a single year instead of a more normal 12,000 miles.

At any given time, several of the Combat Talons or AC-130Us could be in the depot being fixed. That means there are fewer available to fly critical missions. Training flights are also curtailed.

Heithold called the situation a "manageable crisis," but said serious problems could emerge if more money isn't provided for extended improvements and new aircraft over the next few years.

"Any time you have a small number of airplanes that the appetite for continually increases, it's hard to meet the demand," Heithold said. "If we don't wrestle with this now, it's a looming problem out there."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080219/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/air_force_worn_out_by_war

I don't know about Obama but if Hillary is elected...it's gonna get alot worse.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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MrAbovePar

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Technology is hard to keep running without constant engineering. Airframes can be flown until fatigue eventually settles i and it's just simply unsafe to fly. Fighters have a ton more stress than cargo and fuelers on the airframe AFAIK and they're the most expensive as well as the whole point of an AF.
 

Jerry1

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I think he's less anti-military though. Still an asscunt, but just sayin'.
I think so too. Still remember on Sept 11th they were interviewing a general live on CNN and they said they had to interrupt him to go to a live statement given by Hillary and he was like "Oh, I can hardly wait".
I still remember that because it was the first good laugh I had that day.
 

Butter Nuggets

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They should scrap the whole fighter plane thing and build a space bridge to send up satellite weapons and moon lasers.
 

Hudson

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I believe the Marines are having a problem with armored Equipment as well..So where is all our $$ for the military going?
 

stillbornstew

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1. inadequte armor in the hum-vees in iraq
2. rifle cleaning brushes that are being sent NONPROFIT to marines/soldiers b/c the gov't issued brush is just shit.
3. marines/soldiers in combat zones buying their own BETTER equpiment from commercial companies......(and yes, i have friends coming back for deployments in afghanistan/iraq that have verified this)

do you really think the gov't is going to drop some coin on planes anytime soon? they'll just keep putting band-aids on the problem.
 
Jun 2, 2005
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I believe the Marines are having a problem with armored Equipment as well..So where is all our $$ for the military going?
Halliburton.

No, seriously. I'm not making a joke here. The military is contracting Halliburton on a no-bid basis and they're draining the budget, and since the work is being done in a war-zone, Halliburton executives easily sell it to the press.
 

Hudson

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Halliburton.

No, seriously. I'm not making a joke here. The military is contracting Halliburton on a no-bid basis and they're draining the budget, and since the work is being done in a war-zone, Halliburton executives easily sell it to the press.
That would make sense, since I saw an ad for swim teachers (ie basic keep from drowning shit) for 6 months at 50 grand from them on a coaching site..
 
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That would make sense, since I saw an ad for swim teachers (ie basic keep from drowning shit) for 6 months at 50 grand from them on a coaching site..
Bro, as someone who's seen both sides, I'd take that job if I were you.
 

VMS

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Halliburton.

No, seriously. I'm not making a joke here. The military is contracting Halliburton on a no-bid basis and they're draining the budget, and since the work is being done in a war-zone, Halliburton executives easily sell it to the press.
Problem is, who else do you hire to do the work?

Even if you open it up to bidding, who else is bidding against Haliburton? Do you know of any competitors out there?
 

Kris_LTRMa

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Shameless bragging - my nephew is a freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. He joined the Air Force ROTC program and was offered a full 3 1/2 year scholarship & a bunch of other perks if he'd sign a 4 year commitment. All he's got to do is maintain a 2.7 gpa which considering he's got a 3.8 won't be a problem. Since he wants to work with the FBI, when he graduates, he took the deal.

Okay, back to the discussion
 

Jerry1

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The latest....

The Air Force Reaches for the Sky By MARK THOMPSON/WASHINGTON
25 minutes ago



The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have worn down the nation's ground forces, stretching those serving in the Army and Marines and wearing out their gear at an unprecedented rate. So, it's no surprise that the nation's ground-pounders would be seeking the most from the ever-cooperative members of the House Armed Services Committee. For years, that Pentagon-pleasing panel has asked the services to send it a wish list - lawmakers prefer to call it an "unfunded requirements list" - of budget items they desire but which have not been approved by their penny-pinching civilian overseers, i.e. the Defense Secretary and the President.


Earlier this month, the Army stepped up to the plate and asked for $4 billion more than the $141 billion it is slated to receive in 2009. The Marines asked for $3 billion more than their proposed ration of $25 billion. The Navy asked for $5 billion to be added to its bottom line of $124 billion. But all those sums added together don't equal the - hold your breath, dear taxpayer - $19 billion that the Air Force wants over and above its $144 billion request.


A quick flip through the 11-page list turns up a $13 million "requirement" for dorm furniture - an item that may justify the other services dubbing it the "Chair Force" because so many of its people are behind desks. In response to questions from TIME on the list's contents and cost, the Air Force issued a statement Thursday saying the list contains only its "most critical needs." Lieutenant General Dave Deptula, the Air Force's top intel officer, says his service's needs "are severe and getting worse," and that the list reflects the gap "between where we are and where we need to be."


Highlighting the huge request is a proposal by the Air Force to trump its civilian leaders and buy twice as many F-22 jets as now planned, while hyping the threats to justify the buy. China and India are, in the Air Force's eyes, the 21st century equivalent of the Soviet Union, requiring billions in new aircraft that even a hawkish Republican President doesn't think are needed. More critically, every dollar spent on supersonic aircraft is a dollar that isn't spent on the kind of troops and materiel needed to wage the two irregular wars the nation is now fighting, and which many experts predict will be the kinds of wars fought for the next generation or two.


The military is hardly starving. The Pentagon's proposed 2009 Defense Budget is twice the size of the budget President Bush inherited from Bill Clinton. Even without the nearly $200 billion for the wars, the $515 billion tab is on par with the defense budgets of World War II. "Today, free-flowing funding has fundamentally undermined all budget discipline in the Pentagon," says Gordon Adams, who oversaw military spending from a senior post in the Clinton White House.


Take the fight over the F-22. The Pentagon has declared it wants to cap procurement at 183 planes, for $65 billion. But the Air Force wants 380 of them. "We think that [183] is the wrong number," General Bruce Carlson, the Air Force's top weapons buyer, told reporters at a Feb. 13 industry gathering. "We're committed to funding 380," he added. "We're building a program right now to do that." Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne after reading Carlson's comments in Aerospace Daily, a trade paper, and told him to remind Carlson who's the boss. (Wynne did, and issued a statement saying the Air Force "wholeheartedly supports" the Administration's proposal.)


Days earlier, Carlson said that today's U.S. Air Force "simply cannot fight and win against the fleet of airplanes that have been developed and are flying in India, China, and so forth," a claim questioned by many experts. But his view has been reinforced by the companies employing 25,000 workers in 44 states building the F-22 - the prime contractor is aerospace giant Lockheed Martin - and their allies in Congress. That is what is so insidious about these lists: once Congress gets a hold of them, they're used as pile drivers to pound extra billions into the Pentagon budget, generally by lawmakers seeking to fund jobs in their districts.


In addition to more F-22 fighters, the Air Force's wish list also seeks more F-35 fighters (needed for "the Required Force"), more C-130 and C-17 cargo planes ("Part of Required Force"), and more unmanned Global Hawk drones (these would merely "Support Required Force"). Unmanned aircraft are supposed to be cheaper, but the price tag on these runs more than $120 million apiece. More than $1 billion is being sought for 11 passenger planes, seven of them Gulfstream Vs favored by Apple's Steve Jobs and Sir Elton John (no mention of any Required Force justification here).


Then there's the line item seeking 100,600 handguns (there are 330,000 people in the Air Force) featuring "improved ergonomic design and higher caliber effectiveness" at $1,157 a pop. The service also wants 210,000 M-4 carbines at $1,747 a clip. For years, the Air Force has complained about the Army having its own air force. Now, at long last, the Army may be able to complain about the Air Force having its own army. View this article on Time.com
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080222/us_time/theairforcereachesforthesky

And a little story about Secretary Gates commenting on the F-22 Raptor:
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1710944,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-full-nation-related
 
Jun 2, 2005
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Problem is, who else do you hire to do the work?

Even if you open it up to bidding, who else is bidding against Haliburton? Do you know of any competitors out there?
That's an easy argument to make considering there was never an opportunity to see who would have stepped up. I'd imagine Black and Veatch or maybe Carter Burgess might have wanted to bid on the jobs knowing full well they would have to beef up their infrastructure... but I guess we'll never know.
 

UCFGavin

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I believe the Marines are having a problem with armored Equipment as well..So where is all our $$ for the military going?
everything costs more when its paid by the government. you want a box of nails? $20. oh, you want a new sleeping bag? $300. etc, etc

if we decided to do what we SHOULD do, and thats defend our own borders instead of having all of our troops occupying the rest of the world, we could probably decrease that budget and keep up to date on modern machines.
 

Cunt Smasher

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If I remember correctly the last B-52 was built in the early 50's. We still haven't come up with anything better. We need civilian oversight,but I refuse to believe they aren't at least in the ballpark with what they want. Or the more cynical view,if they need 5,they gotta ask for 50.
 

VMS

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That's an easy argument to make considering there was never an opportunity to see who would have stepped up. I'd imagine Black and Veatch or maybe Carter Burgess might have wanted to bid on the jobs knowing full well they would have to beef up their infrastructure... but I guess we'll never know.
So you want the gov't to pay for those companies to beef up their infrastructure, too? That infrastructure beef up doesn't come free, after all.

everything costs more when its paid by the government. you want a box of nails? $20. oh, you want a new sleeping bag? $300. etc, etc
True. Some of it makes sense (ie- hammers that cost $50, but are dipped in special rubber so it doesn't make noise when it drops to the deck of a submarine trying to be quiet), but most of it is bullshit.

if we decided to do what we SHOULD do, and thats defend our own borders instead of having all of our troops occupying the rest of the world, we could probably decrease that budget and keep up to date on modern machines.
Dude, isolationalism is so early 20th century. Fuck, we're still in Japan, Germany, Korea, England, etc. We're the new British Empire: the sun never sets on our troops. Get used to it.

And if you want the root of the immigration/border issue, I'll sum it up in 4 words:

The INS fucked up.

And they're still fucking up. The INS determines the quotas on who gets in legally. The INS fucked up. The American economy was (and is) SCREAMING for cheap labor, and the INS kept its quotas to where to get in it was better to be a college educated computer programmer than it was to be an unskilled laborer willing to tar a roof for 12 hours.

When the American economy supplies those computer programmers internally, but doesn't supply those roof tar workers, and then doesn't allow those roof tar men into the country legally, basic economics says those jobs are going to get filled. There's a demand for them, we're not supplying that demand internally, and the retard government agency in charge of immigration isn't allowing that demand to be supplied through immigration.

Shit, watch Dirty Jobs. There's rarely an episode where you don't see a Hispanic with shitty language skills standing in the background, shoveling shit. You think all those guys are legal?

Get the illegal immigration problem fixed at its source (ie- INS), and border traffic drops enough that it becomes practical to secure the borders.
 

Jerry1

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If I remember correctly the last B-52 was built in the early 50's. We still haven't come up with anything better. We need civilian oversight,but I refuse to believe they aren't at least in the ballpark with what they want. Or the more cynical view,if they need 5,they gotta ask for 50.


oh wait a minute...
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080223/ap_on_re_us/b2_crash;_ylt=AnjrWgMSrELTxzWrQi73JJSs0NUE

Reason why the B-52 is still around is that the B-1s and B-2s are so expensive to build so the B-52 fills the gap left open by the lack of B-1s and B-2s. There were so many built during the Cold War that replacing one for service isn't that much of a problem. Add in the fact that they are much more inexpensive to operate than the B-1 and B-2.
In the age of missles the B-52 got a new lease on life with the advent of the air launched cruise missile. So they wouldn't have to fly into a high threat area to take out a target. And do it alot less expesively than a B-2.
 
Jun 2, 2005
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#25
So you want the gov't to pay for those companies to beef up their infrastructure, too? That infrastructure beef up doesn't come free, after all.



True. Some of it makes sense (ie- hammers that cost $50, but are dipped in special rubber so it doesn't make noise when it drops to the deck of a submarine trying to be quiet), but most of it is bullshit.



Dude, isolationalism is so early 20th century. Fuck, we're still in Japan, Germany, Korea, England, etc. We're the new British Empire: the sun never sets on our troops. Get used to it.

And if you want the root of the immigration/border issue, I'll sum it up in 4 words:

The INS fucked up.

And they're still fucking up. The INS determines the quotas on who gets in legally. The INS fucked up. The American economy was (and is) SCREAMING for cheap labor, and the INS kept its quotas to where to get in it was better to be a college educated computer programmer than it was to be an unskilled laborer willing to tar a roof for 12 hours.

When the American economy supplies those computer programmers internally, but doesn't supply those roof tar workers, and then doesn't allow those roof tar men into the country legally, basic economics says those jobs are going to get filled. There's a demand for them, we're not supplying that demand internally, and the retard government agency in charge of immigration isn't allowing that demand to be supplied through immigration.

Shit, watch Dirty Jobs. There's rarely an episode where you don't see a Hispanic with shitty language skills standing in the background, shoveling shit. You think all those guys are legal?

Get the illegal immigration problem fixed at its source (ie- INS), and border traffic drops enough that it becomes practical to secure the borders.
We're arguing the same point.

All I'm saying is that if you'd opened it up to bidding the Engineering Firms would have had the choice to make a bid based on their conceived profits from the job to build their infrastructure instead of the reality, which let a no-bid contract force over-priced services and good, actual free-market companies get thrown byt he way-side to beg for scraps in the form of municipal contracts, to the point where they outsource to India because the laws are less restrictive, and still safe, and the workers love it because they can feed their families.

My fucking god, I just got to immigration reform!

Why am I the only one who says these things?