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Comment Re:$231 million? (Score 3, Interesting) 139

And used. New wrenches can be much for expensive, particularly if they are made in America.

Also let me illustrate government contracting, yes all the RFQs are posted online. But it isn't like you can bid on it, they typically require so much paperwork that companies that don't normally deal with government contracts either balk at it, or screw something up and their bid is not considered.

More often than not government contracting goes through a handful of distributors who not only know all the paperwork, but are often owned by people that can check off the right boxes on the minority statements.

So even though the government gets a quantity discount, often with all the overhead and additional testing the government requires (like getting a certification from an independent lab or doing NDI on every item delivered) even with a quantity discount it might still be more expensive then buying it at retail.

A good example of this is GE engines, they make the F108 that is used on the KC-135, other than a different name plate it is almost identical to the CFM56s they deliver to civilian customers. The F108s typically cost almost 10% more than the CFM56, and doesn't include the warranty that they give to civilian customers. That is because the USAF slows the line down for inspections and testing, and paperwork lots and lots of paperwork. Thus it costs the USAF 10% more than if they just bought them COTS.

Another good example of the paperwork is that the Lockheed is required to keep all the paperwork from the F-16 program, there is so much paperwork from that program that it has it's own warehouse. Some of that paperwork is almost 50 years old, and Lockheed will probably have to keep it safely stored until the very last F-16 is retired.

Government in it's attempt to control fraud, and waste has ironically caused wasteful increases in costs to prevent the waste and fraud.

Comment Re:Vast Amount of Money? (Score 1) 139

Whee it is fun talk to people that have no idea about aviation.

I never said that it couldn't do air to air. Simply that when the contract was drawn up that stealth strike was their primary concern, as they already had a contract program that concentrated on air to air. As far as the test pilot report, the test pilot knew that the F-35 didn't stand a chance against the F-16 (as the YF-16 was designed to be the best dog fighter in the sky and the F-16 still retains much of that capability), he was just surprised about how quickly it bleed energy with the current version of the flight control laws, and hoped that the updated version (which should be hitting the test articles soon) would help with that.

As far as the rest of your post you are basing it on a report that is over 18 months old. Have you considered that in 18 months that they might have much of those issues fixed? There are still issues remaining with notable ones being, the gun's computer code needs to be completed, the 360 degree sensor system is incomplete, and the flight control laws need to be finalized.

Comment Re:$231 million? (Score 1) 139

Of course you didn't hear it that way because the companies weren't allowed to defend themselves in the media, it didn't fit their narrative, and this was before the internet where you could just lay the facts out there.

There was a special ultra expensive wrench that was often trotted out as an example of Pentagon excess, perhaps you were thinking of that. But that wrench was a special non-spraking wrench designed for working on bombs, which often gets ignored. IIRC it was made out of beryllium cooper.

As far as the toilet seat, often what they are siting was an assembly that included the seat along with the lid which was a pressure fitting for a submarine. It was designed to seal the toilet to prevent a leak in the waste system from flooding the submarine.

Comment Re:Vast Amount of Money? (Score 1) 139

Repeating the same thing won't make it anymore true.

Repeat after me, the F-35 wasn't designed to have air to air combat as a primary requirement. If it was, it would look a lot like the F-22, large wings, small internal weapons bays, and a large engine. Instead it was designed with a large internal weapons bay which eats up the available wing area, and a more moderate engine. No one complained that the F-117 couldn't beat a fly in ACM. Honestly I think if the DOD decided to name it the B-35 or the A-35 it would solve a lot of issues, but it would severely limited the export-ability as the allied nations want multi-role aircraft. And frankly the F-35 isn't a horrible fighter, it just can't hold a candle to the dedicated fighters (like the F-15 and the F-16) built for the fourth generation.

I've mentioned in another comment that stealth aircraft can get wet. Yes encountering rain in flight damages the RAM, but that is considered a cost of doing business, you want a stealth aircraft you have to deal with the replacing the RAM periodically.

As far as the other issues those are normal. They did articles similar to this during the flight testing and IOC phase of the F-22 that resulted in SecDef Gates killing the program over the objections of the US Air Force that it would leave them without enough of front line fighters to do their mission. It is almost like they knew that the F-35 wasn't an air to air fighter, oh wait maybe they did because they read the freaking contract years ago. Heck go back long enough you will see the same complaints about the F-15, and the AIM-120 both programs that once finished were quite capable. And that doesn't mention the flight control issue with the F-16 that was only discovered years after it entered service and killed at least one pilot.

  As far as the cost overruns, that doesn't surprise me. Every new aircraft is more expensive than the last. Add in all the new shit being developed for the F-35, many of which are actually brand new you are going to have overruns.

Comment Re:Vast Amount of Money? (Score 1) 139

Actually the F-35 is on schedule. All the basic flight testing is done and most of the weapon testing, except for the gun (which is scheduled to be operational well before the F-35 gets to FOC), has been done. In fact the F-35B is currently in IOC, which means that the USMC (in the case) is currently having actual Marines maintain the jet to figure out how to maintian the aircraft if needed make modifications based on those experiences.

As far as not beating MIGs, it was never designed to do that. The JSF design heavily favors strike side of the equation, anyone that has actually followed the program should know that. In fact if any so called aviation experts were shocked that the F-35 wasn't as good as other dedicated fighters (which includes the F-16 which was designed originally to be dedicated fighter), they aren't much of an aviation expert. The F-22 was meant to be the dedicated fighter, and F-35 was meant to be primarily for strike missions, the specs and the size of the internal weapons bays make that pretty clear.

As far as ballistic missile defense, the current missile defense strategy isn't designed to prevent MAD. So anyone complaining that it can't handle the Russian ICBMs with multiple decoys and counter measures is attacking the system for a capability it was never meant to have. It was meant to protect against a rogue state like Iran or North Korea launching their not as complex ballistic missiles. Sure their capabilities can increase, but so can the system. We didn't go from primitive airborne rockets to laser guided missiles that have the ability to hit moving targets over night. BMD is no different.

Comment Re:$231 million? (Score 1) 139

This is one of those military half truths that continues unabated, like the $600 hammer.

The B-2 can fly in the rain, because material isn't an strong as aluminum it sustains damage that must be remeditated, but that is just a cost of doing business with the technology. You want a stealth bomber you are going to have to spend extra money maintain the radar absorbent material.

BTW the $600 hammer was actually $435 and was part of a spare parts kits, and when the contractor parceled out the R&D in their accounting system they evenly divided the R&D costs for each item, which came out to $400 each which resulted in a cost of $435 for each hammer.

Comment Re:Only "troubled" if you're not Lockheed Martin (Score 1) 509

Lets see long difficult training pipeline with a high washout rate, and not a huge poll of talent while keep quality high. Lack of buy in by the normal military, so even before contracting there weren't enough SF available. Combined with high rate tempo high risk deployments with high causality rates. Really even without contracting it is unlikely that we would have enough, particularly if we had to dedicate quite a number for PSD missions.

Honestly it isn't perfect, but contracting out the State department's specialty non-direct combat jobs, allowed it the DOD to free up a limited pool of SF soldiers for direct combat roles.

Comment Re:Only "troubled" if you're not Lockheed Martin (Score 1) 509

<quote><p> I was first really shocked about military outsourcing when I saw a photo of L. Paul Bremner III, the proconsul for Iraq, being guarded by a group of Blackwater people.</p><p>How on earth is this justified - forget the question of allegiance and loyalty, outsourcing has got to cost more than using your own troops.</p><p>What happens now seems to be
- USG invests hunderds of thousands or millions of dollars in training for 1334 soldiers and pays them a civil service salary
- Mercenary corp hire them and pays them double their salary
- USG contracts Mercenary corp, and gets its own soldiers back and four times the price and one quarter the loyalty.</p></quote>

<p>The US military isn't really trained for PSD work. Blackwater and other contracting companies takes Special Forces soldiers and trains them specifically for the PSD missions that they do for the state department.</p>

<p>Now the US military could train some of it's soldiers for PSD missions, but they already have a shortage of Special Forces soldiers.</p>

Comment Re:Easiest way to save money (Score 1) 369

We don't have bases in 130+ countries, we have military presence in 156 countries (2002 number), but that can be as small as a team of advisers. We have bases in 63 countries. Some may be unneeded, but many are needed for logistical reasons. For example it's better to fly injured service members to Germany, rather than all the way to the US.

And raising taxes rarely raises revenue, particularly when you do it to the "rich" as they are the ones with the political connections to get exceptions put into the law. On top of that they are more likely to have the ability to use those exceptions to structure their income to avoid those taxes.

Comment Re:Hey! (Score 1) 369

We spend MORE on Social Security every year than we would spend on nuclear weapons in ten years. Add in Medicare, and Medicaid also costs more per a year than our nuclear weapon program would cost in a decade.

It's not a distraction, social programs like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are the larger budget item than defense spending.

Fight Spam With Nolisting 410

An anonymous reader writes with the technique of Nolisting, which fights spam by specifying a primary MX that is always unavailable. The page is an extensive FAQ and how-to guide that addressed the objections I immediately came up with. From the article: "It has been observed that when a domain has both a primary (high priority, low number) and a secondary (low priority, high number) MX record configured in DNS, overall SMTP connections will decrease when the primary MX is unavailable. This decrease is unexpected because RFC 2821 (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) specifies that a client MUST try and retry each MX address in order, and SHOULD try at least two addresses. It turns out that nearly all violators of this specification exist for the purpose of sending spam or viruses. Nolisting takes advantage of this behavior by configuring a domain's primary MX record to use an IP address that does not have an active service listening on SMTP port 25. RFC-compliant clients will retry delivery to the secondary MX, which is configured to serve the role normally performed by the primary MX)."

Microsoft Admits Vista Has "High Impact Issues" 520

EggsAndSausage writes "Microsoft has granted, in a roundabout way, that Vista has 'high impact issues.' It has put out an email call for technical users to participate in testing Service Pack 1, due out later this year, which will address 'regressions from Windows Vista and Windows XP, security, deployment blockers and other high impact issues.' It's hard to know whether to be reassured that Service Pack 1 is coming in the second half of 2007, and thus that there is a timeframe for considering deployment of Vista within businesses, or to be alarmed that Microsoft is unleashing an OS on the world with 'high impact issues' still remaining." In other news, one blogger believes that Vista is the first Microsoft OS since Windows 3.1 to have regressed in usability from its predecessor (he kindly forgives and dismisses Windows ME). And there's a battle raging over the top 10 reasons to get Vista or not to get Vista.
United States

FCC Nixes Satellite Radio Merger 277

a_nonamiss writes "Doesn't look like Sirius and XM are going to merge any time soon. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Logically, I know that competition is a good thing for consumers, and monopolies are generally only good for companies. Still, I don't like having to choose a car based on which satellite radio service comes pre-installed, or considering whether I'd rather have Howard Stern or Oprah, because there is no practical way to get both. Frankly, it's probably all this exclusivity that has caused me not to purchase either system." From the article: "Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin told reporters after an FCC meeting that the Commission would not approve a merger between satellite radio rivals Sirius and XM Radio... When the FCC initially licensed the two satellite radio companies in 1997, there was language in the licensing barring one from acquiring control of the other... Even if the FCC were to have a change of heart..., it would still have to pass antitrust scrutiny by the Department of Justice."
The Internet

Wikipedia Adds No Follow to Links 264

netbuzz writes "In an attempt to thwart spammers and search-engine optimization mischief, Wikipedia has begun tagging all external links on its site "nofollow", which renders those links invisible to search engines. Whether this is a good thing, a bad thing, or simply unavoidable has become a matter of much debate." This topic has come up before and the community voted to remove nofollow back in 2005. This new round of nofollow comes as a directive from Wikia President, Jimbo Wales.

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