In an instant, four tons of steel and explosives slammed into the 522-foot-long warship Schenectady, blowing it apart in a cataclysm of smoke, dust and sound. Overhead, a pair of U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 bombers orbited, one of them having just released four laser-guided bombs. The huge, eight-engine warplanes had flown directly from Louisiana to attack the decommissioned Navy landing ship as part of an exercise near Hawaii on Nov. 23, 2004.
Archived posts from category ‘Industry’
The Air Force’s bomber troubles stretch a long way back. The last bomber to be developed and purchased without huge cost overruns was the B-52, which began development in the late 1940s. Twice in subsequent decades the Air Force launched a new bomber program in order to replace the now-classic B-52, only to see costs rise and production terminated early. Seventy years after its design was conceived, the B-52 remains America’s most numerous strategic bomber.
When the Obama administration dispatched three B-2 bombers from a Missouri air base on March 19 last year to cross the ocean and reach Libya, it put roughly $9 billion worth of America’s most prized military assets into the air. The bat-shaped black bombers, finely machined to elude radar and equipped with bombs weighing a ton apiece, easily demolished dozens of concrete aircraft shelters near Libya’s northern coast.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the supposed backbone of the Pentagon’s future air arsenal, could need additional years of work and billions of dollars in unplanned fixes, the Air Force and the Government Accountability Office revealed on Tuesday. Congressional testimony by Air Force and Navy leaders, plus a new report by the GAO, heaped bad news on a program that was already almost a decade late, hundreds of billions of dollars over its original budget and vexed by mismanagement, safety woes and rigged test results.
It’s a cliche of American defense reporting that the U.S. weapons industry is in terminal decline. Reading the biggest trade publications, you’d think Washington is voluntarily disarming.
Over the past 15 years the Army has spent $17 billion on a doomed attempt to build a “universal” radio — that is, a single radio model capable of replacing the many different radio types in everyday use by front-line troops. After struggling for years with escalating size, weight and complexity, in October the Army finally canceled the Ground Mobile Radio, the main version of this so-called Joint Tactical Radio System.
Center for Public Integrity: Failure to Communicate: Inside the Army’s Doomed Quest for the ‘Perfect’ Radio
As several dozen soldiers from the U.S. Army’s Task Force Rock drove into Afghanistan’s Chowkay Valley one morning in March 2010, Taliban fighters immediately began moving into ambush positions along a higher ridge. The Force’s mission was to protect a U.S. reconstruction team as it met with local village leaders, but it was stuck in place as the Taliban reached their fighting posts.
The Army has spent billions of dollars in the past 15 years on an ambitious program to develop a universal radio. It was called the Joint Tactical Radio System, or “JTRS.” But now the Army has scrapped most of that program. Melissa Block talks to military writer David Axe about its failure.
When an F-22 Raptor malfunctioned in mid-flight, leading to a crash that killed its pilot, the Air Force went into damage-control mode. Gen. Norton Schwartz, the chief of staff, insisted there was no way that the oxygen generator on his prized stealth jet — a system widely suspected of being dangerously flawed — caused the crash. And even now that an internal inquiry seems to contradict Schwartz, the Air Force is still blaming Capt. Jeffrey Haney for the crash that cost Haney his life.
The most expensive weapons program in U.S. history is about to get a lot pricier.
Building the C-130J
War Is Boring resident photographer Bryan William Jones visited Lockheed Martin’s C-130J production line in Georgia and produced a beautiful photo essay. Check it out.
Aerospace giant Boeing is in the process of shutting down one of America’s most storied laboratories. “Building 31,” part of Boeing’s research facility in Huntington Beach, California, helped develop some of the Pentagon’s most secretive weapons — that is, until bloated bureaucracy and benefit cuts demoralized and scattered its employees. Under current plans, the 60-year-old lab will close its doors for good in mid-2013.