black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

             

Checking In On The Flying Swiss Army Knife

Occasionally, the blog has dropped in to check on the progress of the F-35, the $400 billion … flying Swiss Army Knife that stands as a monument to government boondogglery of the highest caliber. Well, look what has managed to survive the sequestration crisis just fine, thank you very much.

Ninety senators have a political stake in this clown show, so it will never close. Meanwhile, Congress is fighting tooth-and-nail over how much to cut food stamps, and we keep building a new airplane that can’t maneuver in combat or perform air-to-ground support any better than the ones we have now, and that spends more time in the shop than my old minivan did, and it had axles that would break if you looked at them and an electrical system designed by bonobos. The next person who talks to me about how we need to ask Americans to ‘sacrifice’ more gets a cream pie in the face. I am not kidding about this.”

Progress Of The F-35 (Previously | More)

"The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which represents the Pentagon’s largest weapons program, was supposed to be the arms program that broke the mold, proof that the Pentagon could build something affordable, dependable and without much drama. […]
The F-35 was conceived as the Pentagon’s silver bullet in the sky — a state-of-the art aircraft that could be adapted to three branches of the military, with advances that would easily overcome the defenses of most foes. The radar-evading jets would not only dodge sophisticated antiaircraft missiles, but they would also give pilots a better picture of enemy threats while enabling allies, who want the planes, too, to fight more closely with American forces.
But the ambitious aircraft instead illustrates how the Pentagon can let huge and complex programs veer out of control and then have a hard time reining them in. The program nearly doubled in cost as Lockheed and the military’s own bureaucracy failed to deliver on the most basic promise of a three-in-one jet that would save taxpayers money and be served up speedily.
Rather than being the Chevrolet of the skies, as it was once billed, the F-35 has become the most expensive weapons system in military history. But while Pentagon officials now say that the program is making progress, it begins its 12th year in development years behind schedule, troubled with technological flaws and facing concerns about its relatively short flight range as possible threats grow from Asia. 
With a record price tag — potentially in the hundreds of billions of dollars — the jet is likely to become a target for budget cutters. Reining in military spending is on the table as President Obama and Republican leaders in Congress look for ways to avert a fiscal crisis. […]
The jets would cost taxpayers $396 billion, including research and development, if the Pentagon sticks to its plan to build 2,443 by the late 2030s. That would be nearly four times as much as any other weapons system and two-thirds of the $589 billion the United States has spent on the war in Afghanistan. The military is also desperately trying to figure out how to reduce the long-term costs of operating the planes, now projected at $1.1 trillion.”
[photo: Marine Corps’ version of the Joint Strike Fighter]

"The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which represents the Pentagon’s largest weapons program, was supposed to be the arms program that broke the mold, proof that the Pentagon could build something affordable, dependable and without much drama. […]

The F-35 was conceived as the Pentagon’s silver bullet in the sky — a state-of-the art aircraft that could be adapted to three branches of the military, with advances that would easily overcome the defenses of most foes. The radar-evading jets would not only dodge sophisticated antiaircraft missiles, but they would also give pilots a better picture of enemy threats while enabling allies, who want the planes, too, to fight more closely with American forces.

But the ambitious aircraft instead illustrates how the Pentagon can let huge and complex programs veer out of control and then have a hard time reining them in. The program nearly doubled in cost as Lockheed and the military’s own bureaucracy failed to deliver on the most basic promise of a three-in-one jet that would save taxpayers money and be served up speedily.

Rather than being the Chevrolet of the skies, as it was once billed, the F-35 has become the most expensive weapons system in military history. But while Pentagon officials now say that the program is making progress, it begins its 12th year in development years behind schedule, troubled with technological flaws and facing concerns about its relatively short flight range as possible threats grow from Asia. 

With a record price tag — potentially in the hundreds of billions of dollars — the jet is likely to become a target for budget cutters. Reining in military spending is on the table as President Obama and Republican leaders in Congress look for ways to avert a fiscal crisis. […]

The jets would cost taxpayers $396 billion, including research and development, if the Pentagon sticks to its plan to build 2,443 by the late 2030s. That would be nearly four times as much as any other weapons system and two-thirds of the $589 billion the United States has spent on the war in Afghanistan. The military is also desperately trying to figure out how to reduce the long-term costs of operating the planes, now projected at $1.1 trillion.

[photo: Marine Corps’ version of the Joint Strike Fighter]

“Adjusted for inflation, the United States spent at most $580 billion a year on defense at the height of the Cold War. In the 2011 fiscal year, the Pentagon’s baseline budget is $549 billion, with another $159 billion allotted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for a total of $708 billion. That total figure drops slightly to $670 billion in the 2012 budget proposal.”
NYT: Pentagon Increases Control on Media Contacts

Following the debacle involving McChrystal and Rolling Stone, military officials will now have to get approval from the Defense Department before talking to the media.

Because clearly, it isn’t enough to have “the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department,” to ensure positive coverage.

previously

“In a little more than a year the United States flew $12 billion in cash to Iraq, much of it in $100 bills, shrink wrapped and loaded onto pallets. Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that “at least $9 billion” of the cash had “gone missing, unaccounted for.” $9 billion.

 Today, we learned that suitcases of $3 billion in cash have openly moved through the Kabul airport.

One U.S. official quoted by the Wall Street Journal said, ‘A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen.’ $3 billion. Consider this as the American people sweat out an extension of unemployment benefits.

 Last week, the BBC reported that ‘the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are funneling the money to warlords.’ Add to that a corrupt Afghan government underwritten by the lives of our troops.

 And now reports indicate that Congress is preparing to attach $10 billion in state education funding to a $33 billion spending bill to keep the war going.

 Back home millions of Americans are out of work, losing their homes, losing their savings, their pensions, and their retirement security. We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war.

Bring our troops home. End the war. Secure our economy.”
Matt Taibbi: Lara Logan, You Suck

Lara Logan, come on down! You’re the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!

I thought I’d seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program, agreeing that the Rolling Stone reporter violated an “unspoken agreement” that journalists are not supposed to “embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter.”

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn’t mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here’s CBS’s chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that’s killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag.

According to Logan, not only are reporters not supposed to disclose their agendas to sources at all times, but in the case of covering the military, one isn’t even supposed to have an agenda that might upset the brass! Why? Because there is an “element of trust” that you’re supposed to have when you hang around the likes of a McChrystal. You cover a war commander, he’s got to be able to trust that you’re not going to embarrass him. Otherwise, how can he possibly feel confident that the right message will get out?

True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department – but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society with armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?

And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan’s own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world’s largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.

But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon’s biggest contractors?

Does the fact that the country is basically barred from seeing dead bodies on TV, or the fact that an embedded reporter in a war zone literally cannot take a shit without a military attaché at his side (I’m not joking: while embedded at Camp Liberty in Iraq, I had to be escorted from my bunk to the latrine) really provide the working general with the security and peace of mind he needs to do his job effectively?

©2011 Kateoplis