Monday, May 30, 2011

Fathers: In Memoriam

The Chief and I went to put flowers on my Father's headstone yesterday, and all the (known) veterans in the cemetery had small flags already in place. While the 'Veteran's Section' was a sea of flags as one would expect, I was surprised at the numbers/percentages of flags placed throughout the cemetery.

In Memoriam, here's a couple of photos of our late Fathers.

First my Father-In-Law, 'Rusty' in DaNang Circa 1969, with the 366th 'Gunfighters' Fighter Wing, 4th Fighter Sq. 'Fujiins'. Another photo of him flying in a formation of F-89s was posted earlier.

Next a couple of photos of my Father. The first one is a group photo of the XH-40 flight test 'crew' during evaluations of what would become the ubiquitous 'Huey' in front of one of three XH-40s. Dad is third from left.

The second photo is of an H-37 with my Dad in the group of four in front of it, Dad is second from left, and the caption on the backs reads 'My first forced landing'. It looks like they did a little hedge trimming on an auto rotation. It was his first, but it would not be his last.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Space Coast Guard?

How Quaint. How Naive. How 'Commercial'. How.....'Civilian'.
(H/T Instapundit)
A 'space entrepenuer' and 'Anglophile' James C. Bennett, (with whom I doubt I would find too many disagreements with based upon his writings) steps WAY out of his area of expertise in a new piece at New Atlantis titled "Proposing a ‘Coast Guard’ for Space" where he 'surprise!' promotes his rationale for a Space 'Coast Guard' of sorts. I note that his central reference, what he (not me) describes as: " a thoughtful article published in the Aerospace Power Journal in 2000" in which a "USAF Lt. Col. Cynthia A. S. McKinley proposed the creation of a Space Guard on the Coast Guard model", commits many of the sins of  predecessors in that the superficial 'roles and missions' point of view is used.

Needless to say I prefer another paradigm as a more rational approach to any perceived 'space force' needs.

I would welcome any civil discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the options as presented.

How Professionals Discuss "Airpower"

The future is coming fast. Embrace it...or develop better coping skills. 

Second Line of Defense (SLD) interviewed recently-retired Air Combat Command (ACC) Commander General John D.W. Corley on the future of Airpower. Although the .pdf file at the link mispells Airpower as two words (I kid -- I kid!), and also contains a small number of transcription errors, the discussion approaches the topics of Airpower, platform/system acquisition, and Airpower purpose, priorities and strategies quite well within a short document. General Corley, as ACC Commander was responsible to train and equip the nation's Air Force. Earlier, he was also the Combined Air Operations Center Commander ('Air Boss') in Operation Enduring Freedom. While I wouldn't agree with everything the General says without some qualification or clarification, I listen to guys who are 'Theorists' as well as 'Practitioners' more than the rest. General Corley qualifies (even though he was a fighter 'meat-servo').       

An extract:
SLD: We clearly are working in a relatively constrained fiscal environment, how do we maximize the air superiority effort in these circumstances?

Corley: The approach is to leverage extant legacy assets through building upon the foundation provided by F-22s and F-35s. For example, if I’ve got a fleet of F-15s, how can I leverage those F15s in a potential future environment at the challenging end of the scale with the range of military operations? F-15s today, or F-18s, or F-16s, do not possess the needed survivability inside an anti-access environment. One can say what you will, argue what you won’t, they will not be survivable.
    And from con-ops point of view, they're being pushed further and further out due to terminal defences or country wide or regional defences that exist. And this diminishes their utility, but they can still be effectively utilised.
    For example, you may take an existing platform, like an F-15 from the Air Force and begin to apply a pod to provide for infra-red search tracking, so that it could basically begin to detect assets and then feed that information back to other assets. Or, by providing for connectivity with some advanced tactical data link, that platform, in turn, could be directed to launch weapons from it.
    Even if we have the capabilities of platforms like F-35, F-22, B-2, or a follow on long range strike platform, they ultimately will be limited; limited by what? Limited by things such as, what is their capacity to carry weapons?
    If I’m going to be able to apply persistent pressure, then I have to have some capacity to employ others’ weapons. If I eventually run my F-35s out of SDBs, or out of JDAM’s, is there a way for them to still contribute to the fight because they're inside of that anti-access bubble, still using their sensors, still communicating? Can I contribute to weapons employment from other platforms, outside the anti access bubble to enable the concept of operations and apply persistent pressure?
Read it all. Contrast the expert view with some of those frothy rants on the red-meat threads at defense 'fanboy' sites.

Monday, May 23, 2011

End of the A-12 saga?

Let us hope.

The Supreme Court today reversed a lower court ruling that reversed an even lower court ruling, and I learned a new word: “nonjusticiable”.

Defense News has a copy of the ruling.
It ends as pretty much a “Draw”. Parties were left with an option to file for other cause, but who would be that stupid?
I was fairly sympathetic to the 'Contractors' (was GD and McDonnell Douglas - Is GD and Boeing) because I felt they had a good case that the Government did withhold 'superior knowledge' but  essentially the Supreme Court observed, that even though there was 'Prima Facie' evidence the contractors were correct, national security concerns trumped the civil case.

Here's a Google Earth shot of what I believe is the only A-12 mockup in existence.
  It is in the upper left with the outer wing panels removed. It looks like 'home plate'. They put a cover on it sometime in the last three years or so, and as you work past the old F-16s down to the lower right corner, you see Lockheed's JAST engine test article.

Monday, May 16, 2011

F-35 Haters Evidently Aren't Logicians

Been spending a little time the last couple of days trying to keep the JSF Haters at from hyperventilating over the latest F-35 'scare story' that broke Friday. See Here and Here.

From the Dod Buzz version of the story provocatively titled "The F-35’s legs might not be long enough", and based upon the deceptively-named Federation of American Scientists' release of the DoD's  F-35 Selected Acquisition Report for 2010, we discover that the F-35A model is apparently estimated to be 6 nautical miles short of its Key Performance Parameter (KPP) Combat Radius (584 instead of the KPP's 590 nautical miles).  In engaging the hand-wringers I purposefully did not make a point (but I dropped lots of hints and typed 'estimate' as often as I dared). The weekend has come and gone and no one I saw picked up on what the story was really about. Which is amusing, because the DoD Buzz story practically spelled it out at the end:
But programme officials are also debating whether to change how the range of the F-35A is calculated, the source said. The equation does not include a buffer margin of 5% of fuel capacity, which is intended to be preserved through the end of the flight test period in 2016. Eliminating the buffer margin adds another 72.4km to the aircraft’s combat radius, the source said.
 This paragraph could have been written in Linear A as far as the Anti-JSF crowd was concerned. Let's take a moment to decompose what the paragraph actually says and implies.
RE: But programme officials are also debating whether to change how the range of the F-35A is calculated, the source said. The equation does not include a buffer margin of 5% of fuel capacity, which is intended to be preserved through the end of the flight test period in 2016
So evidently:
1) The program had a conservative methodology in place to help ensure the KPP was achieved.
2) Part of that methodology was installing a 5% margin above and beyond that needed to achieve the KPP.
3) The Program planned to use the buffer until 2016.
4) It seems that the purpose of the extra 5% margin was established by the program to act as a tripwire for taking action.
RE: Eliminating the buffer margin adds another 72.4km to the aircraft’s combat radius, the source said.
Now we see:
1) In reality, even the 'estimated' combat radius really doesn't break the KPP metric based upon expected aircraft performance, but only breaks a program-instituted fudge factor.
2) This fudge factor when added to the KPP threshold means the REAL number 'not being met' via actual performance-based factors in the estimate is ~629nm and not the 590nm KPP.

So the JSF-Haters spent an ENTIRE weekend venting over a 'scare piece' claiming a KPP wasn't being met as it is currently measured, when in reality a fudge-factor based tripwire instituted by the program was barely breached and is still well above the KPP. Instead of observing and noting the wisdom of the program's  approach, the Anti-JSF crowd beats them up over a faux "issue" (vs. a risk being managed). I'll be interested in knowing what the program comes up with as a solution. I would think the fuel-level sensor adjustement (software or hardware) will be the most attractive. I can't help but think a realtively easy answer could be found in tweaking the FADEC at the margins, but the division of labor between Airframe and Powerplant contractors could make it impractical. In any case the program should continue to work to the current methodology and use the tripwire for the original purpose: as a reason to take action as the prudent thing to do.

Be sure and visit the threads, they're a riot -- Including one little (OK, a 'complete') troll I 'Pwned' and his associated meltdown. He was last seen begging for my attention and futilely downrating my comments. If you run into him, and just can't or don't want to ignore him, call him 'Sweetheart'. He likes that.

Friday, May 13, 2011

BlackFive Clears Up F-35 Cost 'Confusion'

 and Ares Dances....poorly

Update 2: BlackFive has explained his interpretation of the chart he used, and as he uses it there is no error. I interpreted it differently (which makes it my error), and would have constructed the chart  somewhat differently to make it clearer. (But then, since I'm Retired AF, I'm a 'Powerpoint god' ...... Note the small 'g')

Updated and Corrected: There was an error in Blackfive's graphic that I missed and repeated here and am keeping for historical accuracy. Essentially the graphic lists RDT&E and MILCON as a part of APUC, when it is part of PAUC. The error does not materially change Blackfive's assertion that what is of importance is the URF, and not the other higher and scarier costs the F-35 detractors like to toss around. My corrections in RED below.
This error is regrettable, mostly because it will give disingenuous F-35 'haters' a hook to ignore Blackfive's larger point.

For the record, and per my DAU course materials, the following is true: 
APUC (Average Procurement Unit Cost) = total procurement dollars (in program base year dollars)/ total procurement quantity. APUC is calculated by dividing total procurement cost by the number of articles to be procured. Total procurement cost includes flyaway, rollaway, sailaway cost (that is, recurring and nonrecurring costs associated with production of the item such as hardware/software, systems engineering (SE), engineering changes and warranties) plus the costs of procuring technical data (TD), training, support equipment, and initial spares.

PAUC (Program Acquisition Unit Cost) = RDT&E $ + Procurement $ + unique MILCON $ (in program base year dollars)/Total procurement quantity + RDT&E prototypes that are production reps used for IOT&E (if any)

Original Post:  
I've been on the road to DC this week (two days and three flights to get back when it should have been a 2+ hr non-stop...another story) so am just catching up on BlackFive's post and the Ares Blog response,  all courtesy of Solomon at SNAFU! (This started out as a SNAFU! comment but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to call B.S. on the B.S.)

When it comes to F-35 ‘costs’ Sweetman is still playing it like he does when frequent commenter 'jackjack' calls him out on the Ares' abuse of F-35 cost numbers. In other words, he talks past the point being made to keep beating the "B.S. Anti-JSF Drum" (patent pending) and holding the JSF costs he does note as 'high' while carefully avoiding equivalent costs (if the info even exists) for other systems. While this Sweetman tactic has at times driven poor 'jackjack' around the bend in frustration, I doubt if it will be little more than mocked at BF for the fey strawman tactic it is. The part of Sweetman's Ares response that directly referred to and linked back to BF's post demonstrates either:
1. The Ragin' Hedge Baby from the Shires didn't really read Blackfive's post or
2. He's assuming a $ cost number used by BlackFive was directed only at Sweetman's use of it.
3. He read the BlackFive post, but thinks his interpretive dance schtick will keep foolin' the rubes.

Sweetman Channels Groucho: "Who are you going to believe? Me or your own lying eyes?"

NOWHERE does BlackFive claim what Sweetman says he does. To whit Sweetman’s parenthetic:
“Blogger BlackFive, for some reason, thinks that APUC includes lifetime O&S costs, and goes off to draw some predictably inaccurate conclusions”
Sweetman is apparently referring to BF’s statement at the link [bold emphasis is mine]:
“Whoa, wait a minute, you say, I’ve seen costs as high as $110 million a copy!

I’m sure you have. But they don’t reflect the URF. Instead they may reflect the Total Ownership Cost (TOC) - the cost of everything necessary to operate the aircraft over the span of its service life - or any of a number of other costs used in the project for various purposes, but it won’t reflect the one we should be most concerned with, the URF.
Yep. 100% accurate.

I find it interesting that Sweetman would assert BF is wrong, when in fact BF’s post includes a graphic (below) that clearly illustrates (with errors irrelevant to BlackFive's point) what gets counted within each 'cost' category and contains no assertions inconsitent with the graphic.

BlackFive's Point 
As I read it, the point of BlackFive’s entire post was about recognizing the URF cost for one airplane as the most relevant cost for discussion: the one people can understand that is similar to the cost they pay when they buy something like a car. The URF value is the value of one plane that comes closest to the expression of what it takes (the discrete value) to produce a unit/commodity that is at risk of loss, or of the value that could be consumed by wear and tear during use. It is a very sensible measure of cost for discussion by the general public and insiders as well.

Sweetman's Fetish
Sweetman’s fetish for APUC and the relevance he assigns to it on the other hand is not nearly as appropriate or useful, unless you like being obtuse for some reason. APUC includes not only the cost of value gained that will not be worn out or lost, but includes costs over which the program has no control, such as military construction, which might not actually occur or will even be ‘gamed’ (now irrellevant anecdote removed.) Even so, I would be comfortable discussing and comparing APUC for various programs IF they were adjusted for comparable-year dollars and even better, if adjusted in quantities for equivalent combat capabilities. associated with production of the item such as hardware/software, systems engineering (SE), engineering changes and warranties) plus the costs of procuring technical data (TD), training, support equipment, and initial spares. But there is one aspect of APUC that makes it VERY inappropriate for use, that I also note Sweetman is careful to avoid mentioning: it includes ‘sunk’ cost, most notably RDT&;E Production, Engineering, and Technical Data  costs that are already incurred.  Since the primary production line for the F-35 is pretty much already stood up, and all the suppliers' production capabilities are running in place waiting for higher production demand, this has to represent a huge chunk of APUC that is already sunk cost. I say Sweetman is “careful to avoid” because while I don’t know if he’s mentioned frequently or ever, it should be stated EVERY time APUC is used and he doesn’t. This failure to do so is, IMHO, a Lie of Omission: one that moves from ‘venial’ to ‘mortal’ the farther along a program is into development and as the increasing % of APUC associated costs become sunk costs.
BlackFive almost nailed it. So what if he cut the 10-ring instead of hitting dead center? Sweetman's response is just more of his pushing his precious and pathetic meme.

There. Didn't have to change all that much after all.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

US Fish and Wildlife Needs a Good 'Purge'

H/T Classical Values
I want to make activist U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists (Man!-I hate soft sciences) as 'Endangered' as the imaginary species they try to 'proclaim' into existence. I mean that. They should be too afraid of recrimination to ever consider using this kind of scientific fraud.

Hey A**hats! - the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard is a subspecies, not a species. There's less genetic difference between the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and it's nearby cousins in New Mexico than there is between humans of different races. Are you saying humankind is made up of different species?

BTW: The F&WS has a long history of employees 'making' the data fit their religious beliefs...and the problem is clearly institutional.

Also, what is the biggest threat to the Lizard anyway? One Suspect.

On the Death of Evil Ones: Enemies Within and Without

H/T Michael Totten posting at Instapundit.

Being military-minded and somewhat experienced in these sort of things, I find no "joy" in Osama Bin Laden's death. I do find satisfaction and relief in the way his death was brought about, and wish my brothers-in-arms in the long continuum of those who have served, are serving, and will serve, continued safety and success in this long war against those who would bring upon us another Dark Age.
On the other hand, when this guy finally croaks (hopefully through natural causes) I'm throwing a freakin' party.

Read his opinion piece at the link. We could play either 'Logical Fallacy' or 'Delusional Leftist Meme' Bingo with his drivel.

 Noam Chomsky. Intellect not only held captive by Ideology, but Intellect perverted by Ideology. The ultimate Useful Idiot.
If you're too busy or lazy to follow the link at the top and read Totten's Yon's comment, it was a short one:
JUST ONCE I’d like to read an article by Noam Chomsky that isn’t faux brilliant in its moral and political idiocy, one that suggests he does, in fact, live in the same world as the rest of us, but he can’t even manage it after Osama bin Laden is killed
Don't hold your breath Michael..

19 Jun 12: Correction on source who was guest-blogging at Instapundit at the time. Thanks to the commenter who just pointed this out, .

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Been Busy and Sans Computer

I've gotten a couple of e-mails from folks wondering where I'm at. Wish I could say someplace exciting, but I'm working killer hours and on top of that, my 3-year old laptop (probably about 10 years equivalent of normal use) went up in smoke almost two weeks ago and I've been waiting for one I ordered to show up, which it did today.  Thank goodnesss I back up my data, and buy hard copy software when possible. Now I won't have to beg CPU time on everyone else's systems just to check my e-mail. It'll take a couple of days to restore my pretty extensive list of programs on this system, but I should be 100% before the end of next week.
Anyway, it's not as if anything worth talking about happened in the last two weeks. ;-)