Tag Archives: Boeing

Money for nothing? Boeing says F-35 isn’t so stealth after all

As the price of the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons endeavor ever soars even further, critics are calling into question the cost and capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

When all is said and done, the United States Department of Defense is expected to spend over $1 trillion on acquiring a fleet of the fancy stealth jets. But while concerns have been raised repeatedly regarding the program for years now, some new reports suggest that the military might soon sign-on to buy other state-of-the-art aircraft.

On Friday this week, Military.com reported that the US Navy has not only decided to drop the number of Lockheed Martin-made F-35s it plans on purchasing from 69 to 36, but that 22 new EA-18G Growlers built by Boeing have been added to a list of unfunded priorities.

Reporters Kris Osborn and Michael Hoffman wrote for the website that Boeing “has worked not so quietly this past year to offer the Navy an escape hatch from the costly Joint Strike Fighter program.”

According to their report, since at least last summer Boeing has been urging the Navy to buy more F/A-18 Super Hornets and Growlers as concerns continue to emerge about the F-35.

As RT reported extensively in the past, the F-35 program has been anything but a success for the DOD thus far — just last month, in fact, it was found out that ongoing software problems were going to push delivery of the Joint Fighter fleet even further behind schedule.

But now in addition to the continuously increasing costs, the F-35’s actual ability to stealthily soar through the sky is being called into question.

Mike Gibbons is the vice president for Boeing’s Super Hornet and Growler programs, and has good reason to talk down the F-35s—after all, less money to Lockheed Martin likely means more for his firm. Regardless, Gibbons told Osborn and Hoffman that the F-35 is no longer as advanced of a stealth craft as once claimed, and is not as effective as the Growler when it comes to countering a wide spectrum of air defense systems.

“The density of the threat is getting more complex and more difficult. The electromagnetic spectrum is getting more complex and more difficult and requires more of what the Growler provides in electronic attack and electronic awareness. Only the Growler has this capability,” Gibbons told the website.

Russia and China, Gibbons added, have developed air defense systems that put the F-35’s stealth technology to the test. And if those capabilities should improve, then the Pentagon’s widely-touted weapons program may be no match for the offensive capabilities of foreign militaries. Advocates for Growlers say that those aircraft can outsmart some of that stealth-defying technology, but the ability to actually stay hidden may soon be slipping away from the DOD altogether.

“[Stealth] is needed for what we have in the future for at least 10 years out there and there is nothing magic about that decade,” added Chief Naval Officer Adm. Jonathan Greenert. “But I think we need to look beyond that. So to me, I think it’s a combination of having aircraft that have stealth but also aircraft that can suppress other forms of radio frequency electromagnetic emissions so that we can get in.”

But as developers continue to strive towards perfecting the F-35s, other problems aren’t exactly disappearing. RT reported last month that a study from the US Government Accountability Office had determined recently that the estimated acquisition cost of the F-35 fleet had dropped by around $11.5 billion during the last year. Just last week, however, the Pentagon published its latest Selected Acquisition Reports, and in it acknowledged that the price of the program had actually increased by about $7.4 billion.

On Friday, former Government Accountability Office employee Winslow Wheeler wrote for CounterPunch.org that the latest report is a “major embarrassment” to the GAO given that the group’s report from last month made claims quite to the contrary.

“In truth, the future of the F-35 program remains clouded, and most cloudy of all is the ultimate unit cost of the aircraft and the impact of that cost, as its reality unfolds, on existing and future buyers,” Wheeler wrote.

Others, however, have suggested that the number of future buyers may soon shrink as well: on Thursday this week, the Australian military was blasted in a harshly worded op-ed published in the Brisbane Times who condemned efforts to acquire F-35 for down under.

“Twelve billion dollars is a big wad of the folding stuff to drop on whizz bangs,” John Birmingham wrote for the paper, “And $12 billion probably won’t come close to the final cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters both mainstream political parties are committed to buying.”

“I got ten bucks says it’ll be more like twice that amount, but you’ll have wait 30 or 40 years to collect. That’s how long these things will be in the air. Assuming they shed their habit of shedding bits and pieces of equipment and airframe at inconvenient moments,” Birmingham added. “Like when they’re in the air.”

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​Disappeared Malaysia Airlines flight path altered by plane’s computer – report

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Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 changed course on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing via the cockpit’s computerized Flight Management System, not by manual control, American officials suggested to the New York Times.

The officials said Monday that only seven or eight keystrokes would have been sufficient to change the Boeing 777’s flight path, though it was not clear whether the system was reprogrammed before or after takeoff.

Regardless, the theory supports the belief of investigators – first voiced by Malaysian officials – that the flight was deliberately diverted.

On Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that investigators had reliable information that someone on the plane had “deliberately disabled” communications systems before the plane vanished. Furthermore, investigators said that it would have taken someone with pilot training to be able to switch off the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS. This system automatically sends engine data and other information to the airline.

Yet Malaysian officials retracted the ACARS theory on Monday. They believe ACARS was still functioning when the plane’s co-pilot spoke the last words heard from MH370 by ground control.

ACARS lost function around the same time oral radio contact was cut off and as the airplane’s transponder halted, the Times reported.

Investigators are combing over radar tapes from MH370’s departure given they believe the recordings would show that after the plane changed its path, it went through several pre-ordained “waypoints,” or markers in the sky. That would implicate that a knowledgeable pilot was controlling MH370 as it went through those points, as passing through them without a computer is not likely.

One waypoint was added to MH370’s planned route, according to investigators. Pilots would do this if an air traffic controller orders a different route to avoid weather or traffic. Yet the wayward point in this case was well off the path to Beijing.

American officials said that if anyone changed the course of the flight by reprogramming the Flight Management System, it would likely be someone familiar with Boeing aircraft.

Meanwhile, China has started a search and rescue operation in a northern region of its own territory, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said early Tuesday, according to Xinhua.

Indonesia and Australia said Monday they would divide between them a large section of the south-eastern Indian Ocean in the plane search. Indonesia will examine equatorial waters while Australia will focus farther south, according to the Times.

On Sunday, Pakistan became one of 25 countries participating in the search for the missing plane. UK newspaper The Independent reported that Malaysian investigators had requested permission from the Pakistani government to follow up on a theory that the missing passenger jet had landed close to the border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government says it has no record of the craft entering its airspace, but has told the Malaysian investigators it is ready to share all available information. In addition, The Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee has said that although the Malaysian Airlines plane could have reached Kazakhstan, their radars would have picked it up.

“No information about the Malaysian plane is available at our radar as it has not entered our airspace,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters when asked to comment on the Malaysian government‘s request. “Our radar system has no information about the Malaysian aircraft as it has never contacted our control tower.”

RT News.

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Malaysia airlines flight carrying 239 people crashed into the sea

A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone Saturday at the Beijing Capital International Airport.

A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone Saturday at the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 carrying 239 people crashed into the sea, reports Vietnamese state media citing a Navy official. The craft disappeared from radars early on Saturday morning over Vietnamese airspace.

Vietnamese state media said the plane came down close to Vietnam’s Tho Chu Island, however these reports have not yet been confirmed by Malaysia Airlines.

Malaysia Airlines said flight MH370 lost touch with Subang Air Traffic Control around 02:40 local time Saturday morning

The aircraft left Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00:41 and was expected to land in Beijing at 06:30 local time (22:30 GMT).

Despite local news reports, Vietnamese and Malaysian rescue crews have not located the plane’s signal, but Hanoi believes the craft disappeared in Vietnamese airspace.

“We have been seeking but no signal from the plane yet,” Pham Hien, director of a Vietnam maritime search and rescue coordination center, told Reuters.

The flight was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said in a statement.

“Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their search and rescue team to locate the aircraft,” the airline added.

There were 14 nationalities represented among the 227 passengers, according to airline officials. Passengers include 153 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, seven Australians, four Americans, and one Russian, among others.

A woman (C), believed to be the relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, covers her face as she cries at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing March 8, 2014.

“Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew,” Malaysia Airlines said in a further statement.“Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support.”

The last contact the plane had with air traffic controllers was 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu, the airline said on Saturday. The pilot of the flight was 53-year-old Malaysian national Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah who has logged a total of 18,365 flying hours and has been working for Malaysian airlines since 1981.

China is assisting Malaysia Airlines with the search for the plane, Chinese state television reported.

“We are very worried after learning the news. We are trying to get in touch with relevant parties to check it out,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in statement.

The flight was a codeshare with China Southern Airlines.

Prior to July 2013’s deadly crash of an Asiana Airlines 777 in San Francisco, the aircraft had been one of only a few long-range jets built by Boeing and Airbus to have never recorded a fatality.

The 777 first flew in 1994, and was introduced into commercial service in 1995. Boeing had delivered 1,100 of the aircraft around the world as of last year.

“We’re closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370,” Boeing tweeted. “Our thoughts are with everyone on board.”

via Malaysia airlines flight carrying 239 people crashed into the sea – Vietnamese state media — RT News.

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