Another cost that’s killing US military budgets

Next Big Future has an interesting article comparing purchase and operating costs of US Air Force and US Navy combat aircraft.  Among its features was this graphic (click it for a larger view). If you do a little basic arithmetic, you find that the cost of buying, say, an F-35 (as cited in the article) will be matched by its operating costs within less than half the aircraft’s expected service lifespan – less, if inflation drives up those operating costs (as it almost certainly will).  Therefore, even after the aircraft have been bought, their ever higher operating costs will continue

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The war in Ukraine and its lessons

Courtesy of a link at Cdr. Salamander’s place, I came across this article by Col. Liam Collins. The situation in eastern Ukraine might best be described as “World War I with technology.” Venturing to the front line today, you would quickly learn the two greatest threats facing Ukrainian soldiers are snipers and Russian artillery. Unlike in 1915, however, soldiers on 2018’s “Eastern Front” receive text messages on their phones telling them their cause is hopeless and they must regularly attempt to avoid being spotted from an unmanned aerial vehicle. The fighting in Ukraine during the past 2½ years provides great

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Catch-and-release drones?

I was interested to see this video clip about DARPA’s Gremlins program for air-deployable, reusable unmanned aerial vehicles.  The technology appears to be advancing by leaps and bounds. When you consider this in the light of “swarm” UAV technology, it looks even more interesting.  The day may not be too far away when almost all aerial activity over a heavily contested battlefield will be UAV’s, launched, recovered and supported from distant platforms, which may themselves be manned or unmanned. Peter

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Saab’s GlobalEye: an example of too many military eggs in one basket?

Saab’s new GlobalEye, an airborne early warning and control platform, has just made its maiden flight in Sweden.  Three have been ordered by the United Arab Emirates, and the company is pitching the aircraft (particularly its newly enhanced radar system) as a replacement for NATO’s ageing Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft in due course.  Here’s a video clip of the first flight. The base platform is a Bombardier Global 6000 large business jet.  Combat Aircraft reports: The GlobalEye features the new Erieye ER (Extended Range) active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar in a ‘balance beam’ fairing atop the fuselage, which Saab

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More about that Russian “mercenary” attack in Syria

Last week I wrote about a Russian “mercenary” attack in Syria.  It’s described here by USAF Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, in command of USAF Central Command, at a news conference. It seems that a lot more was going on than was mentioned in that brief, bald official announcement.  John Ringo, well-known military science fiction author and veteran of US service, has his own sources of information.  He wrote on Facebook: 1. Sov… err… Russians built a bridge over the Euphrates which was the designated ‘deconfliction line’. Why? Reasons. ‘Commite of Nations’ or something. 2. ‘Hybrid’ force of mixed Russian

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What does the USAF want with light attack aircraft?

Air Force Magazine reports: The Air Force has set aside $2.4 billion in the five-year future years defense program to start buying a new fleet of light attack aircraft … The service announced earlier this month it was scrapping the planned combat demonstration in favor of a second experiment with two of the four original participants. That experiment, which will take place this summer at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., will be focused on integrating sensors onto the aircraft. . . . Exactly how many aircraft the service intends to buy, though, is still not clear. . . . Air Combat Command

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Analyzing last weekend’s Israel-Syria-Iran clash

Popular Mechanics sums up the events last weekend. The flight of a single drone this weekend will spark the biggest Israeli air battle with Syria in more than 20 years. Israel takes an aggressively defensive posture following the drone incursion. Commanders decide shooting down the drone is not enough to punish the Iranians who operate it. They want to degrade their enemy’s ability to fly drones from Syria into Israel. Israel’s attacking tools of choice are F-16 fighters … The IDF target is a command-and-control vehicle containing the crew that operates the Simorgh drone. . . . Syrian air defense

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Is Russia losing control over Russian mercenaries in Syria?

A very interesting – and potentially disturbing – development in Syria deserves attention. U.S. forces killed scores of Russian contract soldiers in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to a U.S. official and three Russians familiar with the matter. More than 200 mercenaries, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base and refinery held by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said. The U.S. official put the

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How technology is changing battlefield surveillance

A very interesting development shows up in the Trump administration’s budget request for fiscal 2019.  The USAF will replace one of its premier intelligence-gathering platforms – but not with what was expected. The decision … would terminate the Northrop Grumman E-8C JSTARS and cancel a three-way competition to replace the platform with a large business jet or a Boeing 737. The funding for the JSTARS recapitalization programme will be diverted to pay for development of an advanced battle management system, but details remain scant. As the E-8C enters retirement in the mid-2020s, the Air Force plans to have the first

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