Thursday, June 25, 2009


The F-22 saga continues… three items from today’s Air Force Association Daily Report:

Hollow Threat: Just last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was not yet ready to invoke a "veto threat" over the addition of 12 F-22 Raptors in the House Armed Services Committee's version of the 2010 defense authorization bill. Now, it appears he is ready. A just-released statement of administration policy on H.R. 2647 states the President's senior advisors would recommend a veto if the final bill still contains funds to take the F-22 program of record beyond 187 aircraft. Last week, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, chairman of the committee's air and land forces panel, said he believes the full House will find money for 20 additional Raptors in 2010. Talking with defense reporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning, the head of the House defense appropriations panel, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), also lent his weight to the notion that Congress will approve buying more Raptors (see below). Saying it wouldn't be easy, Murtha pulled a list from an inside coat pocket that he would not share because it constituted "personal conversation" between himself and Gates, but which he said was a list of program decisions that Gates' considers "not negotiable," and from Murtha's subsequent remarks, we concluded the F-22 is on that list. However, the SAP and Gates' notional list are the not the last word. In Abercrombie's view, "The President is much too shrewd [not to realize] … that, should a veto come over adding a few planes into the defense budget, that that wouldn't be overridden in a nanosecond?" He added that a veto threat is "not a productive way to go about having this conversation."

Murtha for More F-22s: House Appropriations defense subcommittee chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) supports further buys of the F-22 and is optimistic that more will be bought, but he said that it will take some wheeling and dealing in Congress to make it happen. Speaking with defense reporters Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Murtha said, "I think we can reach a compromise" on Capitol Hill that would allow the F-22 to go forward. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense panel, "feels very strongly about it, and I do, too," Murtha added. Murtha said he wants the decision to be based on the threat, not on budgets, but that the decision to end the program at 187 aircraft "I think … was made based on cost." He said that on his panel, "we know the Air Force believes it does not have enough airplanes to train people, deploy people, and have enough spares available." (see below, The Sustainment Numbers Game) Murtha said Defense Secretary Robert Gates is "adamant" that no further F-22s be bought. He also said there is "strong sentiment" in the House to continue the production line "but not a majority." Murtha said that the F-22 debate is complicated by the fact that the airplane is still having maintenance issues—although he acknowledged it is still early in its deployment—and by questions about whether the F-35 will perform as advertised.

The Sustainment Numbers Game: When Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, the Air Force's acquisition military deputy, told lawmakers earlier this month that the smaller F-22 Raptor fleet would pose long-term sustainment challenges, he was referring to a wide range of issues, from depot requirements to unscheduled maintenance and repairs and the need to upgrade the older Raptors with enhanced capabilities. Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Karen Platt told the Daily Report Tuesday that Shackelford was comparing the sustainment of larger fleets with a sizeable inventory of backup and attrition reserve aircraft where there is less difficulty in removing aircraft from operational squadrons to undergo maintenance, repairs, or retrofits, to the sustainment of a smaller fleet—in this case, only 186 Raptors. Platt said, "The F-22 fleet, however, has a small backup aircraft inventory and no attrition reserve aircraft," so taking Raptors from an operational squadron for critical maintenance and upgrades has a greater impact on readiness and must be more carefully planned to mitigate impacting mission requirements. And any further losses, due to accidents or combat, would increase this effect, she added.

And then there’s this about recapitalizing the tanker fleet:

Tanker Verbiage: Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chair of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, said Wednesday he wants to introduce language during his panel's forthcoming markup of the Fiscal 2010 defense spending proposal that would call on the Pentagon to acquire new Air Force KC-X tanker aircraft from two suppliers vice just one and build them at a higher annual rate than the Air Force currently projects. However, he told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., his language would not go so far as to mandate this dual tanker buy approach—although it is the one that he clearly favors—but instead would retain the option for DOD to select a single supplier in a winner-take-all competition. The latter has been Defense Secretary Robert Gates' clear preference, but Murtha said he thinks it would be a mistake, given the failed attempt to advance with a single supplier last year. "You are not going to have a [new] tanker if you don't divide [the buy]," he said, recounting a recent conversation he had with Ashton Carter, the Pentagon's new acquisition executive. Murtha continued, "If you don't split it up with two, there is going to be a protest. It will be years before you settle it." Murtha said not everyone on the defense appropriations panel will support his measure, but, in the end, he predicts a compromise. "I think we will get legislation through that will say, we need to have tankers sooner rather than later," he said. Ideally, he'd like to have three new tankers assembled per month (see above), more than the Pentagon and Air Force leadership have said would be fiscally possible each year. Murtha acknowledged that earmarking the extra money to support a larger annual buy would be a challenge, but he didn't characterize it as a show-stopper.

There’s background on this particular flap… including a lot of useful links… here, if’n you’re at all interested. For what it’s worth, the average age of a KC-135 in today’s air force exceeds 46 years. How would YOU like to fly in an airframe that old, day in and day out?


The computer saga... So, we’re preparing to receive the new computing box tomorrow and part of that effort is to do a complete back-up of the current box’s hard drive. On Tuesday it came to my attention that my El Cheapo back-up program that came bundled with the outboard hard drive I bought a couple of years ago has been… umm… less than effective. I run incremental back-ups on a nightly basis and supposedly had a full back-up scheduled once a month. Investigation… i.e., comparing the contents of my external drive to that of the internal drive… revealed significant discrepancies. So… we wiped the external drive and launched a complete back-up last evening around 1730 hrs. As of this writing it’s still running and is only about half complete. It takes a long time to back-up 130 GB over a USB connection.

Oh. I also bought a full-fledged back-up program… no more El Cheapo solutions in this (ahem) space. I’m damned lucky my internal hard drive hasn’t failed.


The Nanny-State Saga... Today’s Funny, from Gary Varvel:

The “anti-smoking legislation” refers, of course, to the FDA regulation of tobacco legislation The One signed into law last week. Which, of course, is a stunning act of hypocrisy on Obama’s part. The President’s smoking habits remain one of the most closely guarded secrets of this administration, but rumor has it he’s “95% successful” in his effort to quit. Now I have NO idea what the Hell that means… in MY world you’ve either quit or you haven’t. But Hey! I don’t live in that “reality-based community” like he does… so what do I know, anyway?

For the record: I quit cigarettes two and a half years ago. Completely. None of this “95% successful” bullshit. Yes, I still smoke a cigar a day... sometimes two. One doesn't inhale that smoke, though.


  1. Personally, I don't see the smoking thing as so much hypocrisy. Addiction is a wretched thing. You can be addicted to nicotine and still be perfectly aware of the dangers of smoking. I know I was, which fueled the several dozen unsuccessful attempts to quit over the years.

    Having said all that - It is, of course, perfectly ripe fuel for those out there building the Obama Pyre on a daily basis.

  2. Either you've quit or you haven't. Black and white. There is no gray area there. (insert major eyeroll here).

  3. I quit cigs in 1987 and still miss them from time to time. I do NOT miss shelling out what they now cost, however!

    So, how much of the Raptor is manufactured in PA?

  4. I thought the very same thing that several of you did. You have either quit or you haven't.

    95% means you haven't quit yet.

  5. "Which, of course, is a stunning act of hypocrisy on Obama’s part."

    Intersting day to post this, Buck.

    For more examples of stunning acts of hypocrisy, Google "Mark Sanford."

  6. Andy: Yup, I tried to quit the ciggies many, many times before making it stick. And God knows there are many folks who have been quit longer than I who began again.

    Jenny: Quit building that pyre! :D

    Moogie: I miss 'em, too. I'd still be smoking if it weren't for the physical effects on me, which were substantial (i.e., breathing capacity).

    Sharon: Yup.

    Lori: Do you think I live in a cave or something? I don't have to google Sanford if my teevee or computer's been on for ANY length of time in the past 48 hours. But... couldn't resist now, could you?


Just be polite... that's all I ask.