by ROBERT BECKHUSEN This month, the Army planned to deploy to Afghanistan an unusual new drone: an unmanned eye-in-the-sky helicopter programmed to use high-tech cameras to monitor vast amounts of territory. But now the drone might be lucky to be deployed at all, as the Army has moved to shut down production — possibly ending [...]
Archived posts with tag ‘Boeing’
The second copy of the Air Force’s X-37B robotic space plane landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California early Saturday morning, ending a record-breaking 469-day orbital mission that began atop an Atlas rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on March 5, 2011. The safe landing of Orbital Test Vehicle 2 after more than 15 months in space is an indisputable triumph for the U.S. military and space industry. Much less certain is the X-37′s future. Budget cuts, labor woes and the looming specter of a Chinese rival could blunt the diminutive robo-shuttle’s orbital edge.
The U.S. Air Force’s new Long-Range Strike Bomber will be less complex and cheaper than the flying branch’s last bomber, the Northrop Grumman B-2. That’s the vow service leaders have been making in Washington, D.C., in recent months as the potentially $55-billion bomber program gets off the ground. (Congress approved the first $300 million in development funds last fall.) “The program will leverage mature technologies” to keep the per-bomber cost to under $550 million, according to Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, an Air Force spokesman.
Offiziere.ch: F-15s Still Kick Ass
America’s main air-to-air fighter since the mid-1970s is still going strong. The F-15 Eagle, originally a McDonnell Douglas product, now built by Boeing, entered U.S. Air Force service in 1976. Today a force of some 250 F-15Cs and Ds comprise the majority of the American air-dominance fleet alongside 180 or so Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors. With equipment and structural upgrades, the F-15s are set to fly and fight for another 20 or 30 years in Air Force colors.
The U.S. Air Force is quietly assembling the world’s most powerful air-to-air fighting team at bases near Iran. Stealthy F-22 Raptors on their first front-line deployment have joined a potent mix of active-duty and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles, including some fitted with the latest advanced radars. The Raptor-Eagle team has been honing special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters in the event of war.
A Marine Corps V-22 Osprey tiltrotor crashed during a training exercise in Morocco yesterday, killing two people aboard and injuring two others. The Marines have released only a few details so far, but it’s worth pointing out that the Boeing- and Bell-built V-22, which takes off and lands like a helicopter and cruises like an airplane thanks to its rotating engines, has a long history of mechanical problems — and a safety record far worse than the military likes to admit.
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.
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.
The cost for the Marines to fix and fly their full fleet of V-22 tiltrotors has grown by nearly two-thirds over just four years, according to a Pentagon estimate. In 2008, the Defense Department calculated the “lifetime” cost of operating 360 V-22 Osprey transports at $75 billion over roughly 30 years. Today the figure is more than $121 billion — a 61-percent increase.
The Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane just got a little more mysterious. The 29-foot-long reusable mini-shuttle was designed to spend up to 270 days in orbit. The 270th day of the winged spacecraft’s second flight is today, but the military has no intentions of bringing the billion-dollar robotic vehicle back to Earth just yet. “It’s still up there,” Maj. Tracy Bunko told MSNBC.