Defense Issues

Military and general security

Archive for September, 2013

Actual F-35 unit cost

Posted by picard578 on September 28, 2013

In 2012, Lockheed has been awarded ten contracts for LRIP Lot 5, with total value of 5,876 billion USD for 32 aircraft; thus per-unit airframe cost is 183,6 million USD. This, however, does not include the engine; engine for F-35A costs 38,4 million USD, which makes unit flyaway cost of 222 million USD for Lot 5. Lot 4 aircraft cost 179,2 million USD without the engine, with engine adding 39,4 million USD; unit flyaway cost is thus 218,6 million USD per aircraft.

This earlier article shows F-35 LRIP 5 cost to be 203,4 million USD, with F-35A costing 172 million USD, F-35B 291,7 million USD, and F-35C 235,8 million USD. It is easy to notice that STOVL version – which is source of many, though not all, problems with F-35s design – is the most expensive one. According to this article, unit flyaway costs were 195,5 million USD for F-35A and 216,6 million USD for F-35B and C in 2012, and 187,7 million USD for F-35A and 277,9 million USD for F-35B/C in 2013. 2014 request gives F-35A unit cost as 188,5 million USD.

Israel, which unlike other countries can not use US help to buy aircraft (which has effect bringing the cost way below actual production cost) was offered 75 F-35As for a price of 202,6 million USD per aircraft. Read the rest of this entry »

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US military proposal

Posted by picard578 on September 21, 2013

Army

Current state

Currently, United States have 8.725 M1 Abrams MBTs. At unit cost of 8,6 million USD, this gives total expenditure of 75 billion USD for MBT force.

As for APCs, there are 6.000 M113s costing 1,8 billion USD, 6.724 M2s costing 12,1 billion USD, and 4.187 Strykers costing 20,5 billion USD, for a total of 16.911 APCs costing 34,4 billion USD.

Infantry anti-tank weapons are as following: FGM-148 Javelin, reusable top-attack AT missile costing 164.000 USD for launcher and 100.000 USD for each missile (in FY 2013 USD, according to Wikipedia); BGM-71 TOW, with each missile costing 50.000 USD; AT-4, a single-shot unguided AT rocket launcher costing 1.480 USD.

Proposal

Main Battle Tank will be diesel-powered, no heavier than 60 metric tons with range of 400-700 kilometers. It will have 120 mm smoothbore cannon but main purpose will be breaking through enemy lines and encircling the enemy or destroying enemy supply lines. Cannon will use tungsten and HE rounds (against armored and soft-skinned vehicles, respectively), and armor will also contain tungsten layer(s). It will cost no more than 6.000.000 USD.

Light tank will also be diesel-powered but will weight no more than 30 metric tons. Range will be at least 800 kilometers, and it will use 105 mm rifled cannon. It will exploit breakthroughts achieved by MBTs and destroy enemy supply lines; armor will be RHA with possibility of adding composite and/or tungsten panels to the outside, making repairs far easier. Cost will be no more than 2.500.000 USD.

APC Read the rest of this entry »

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Defense Budget Tutorial #3C Pork How to Get Rid of It

Posted by picard578 on September 14, 2013

Defense Budget Tutorial #3C: Pork: How to Get Rid of It

February 6, 2006
Winslow Wheeler / Straus Military Reform Project / Center for Defense Information

Pork’s most prominent characteristics are its unknown cost and value to US national defense, and the fact that there is no effort in Congress to ensure due diligence in providing the goods or services in question. This essay spells out a “simple but difficult” five-point plan to rein in military pork.

http://www.cdi.org/friendlyversion/printversion.cfm?documentID=3289&from_page=../program/document.cfm

(February 1, 2006) — To eliminate pork, one must first understand what it is. As discussed in “Defense Budget Tutorial #3B: Pork: What is it?,” pork’s most prominent characteristics are its unknown cost and value to US national defense, and the fact that there is no effort in Congress to ensure due diligence in providing the goods or services in question. [1] Pork is acquired through an opaque process that seeks to operate in the shadows of government with as little explanation and evaluation as possible to ensure that the intended recipient gets the goodies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Are more expensive weapons automatically more capable

Posted by picard578 on September 7, 2013

“I was asked my opinion about the F-35. It’s a waste of money. Far too expensive. Give me an F-15 E — less expensive, will do the job.”
General Chuck Yeager (ret) First Pilot to break the sound barrier.

“If you load a mudfoot down with a lot of gadgets that he has to watch, somebody a lot more simply equipped – say with a stone ax – will sneak up on him and bash his head in while he’s trying to read a vernier. ”
Robert A Heinlein
Tactical comparision

More expensive weapons are often seen as being automatically more capable. But that is not necessarily true, and here I will examine some examples of less costly weapons outperforming more expensive ones. Numerical comparision, while crucial in assessing the actual effect of weapon in war, will be ignored for purposes of the analysis.

Army

Historically

Going very back in the time, simple sling could – in good hands – be a better weapon than bow, arrow, crossbow or even early firearms. Weapon itself was inexpensive and could be made by anyone. While early sling projectiles were not very good at penetration, later on biconical or ovid projectiles were made from clay or metal which greatly improved aerodynamic and penetration characteristics. Sling projectiles preserved more kinetic energy until impact than arrows did, but as this was spread over wider area, they were not as good at penetration. What they lacked at penetration they made up for with brute force: Vegetius has stated that while neither slings or arrows could penetrate Roman armor, slings caused potentially fatal injuries even through armor. Slings were more accurate than bows, and in hands of skilled slinger, had greater range: Larry Bray achieved range of 437 meters, but believed that he could have surpassed 600 m mark with better sling and projectiles; ancient slingers, who trained with sling for life, may have been able to achieve ranges up to 700 meters. In fact, sling remained more dangerous than firearms at least until latter received barrel rifling, and potentially well until 1900s. What ultimately did the sling in was greater homogenization of Europe after ancient times: with cultures mixing, skilled slingers disappeared, and bow, a far easier weapon to master, took over; process later repeated itself with crossbow and firearms.

In World War II, Germans used wooden mines to prevent them from being picked up by metal detectors – it worked so well that they ended up being banned by Geneva Conventions. Heavy flak batteries proved useless, but cheaper small-calibre AAA emplacements, when concealed near possible targets, proved devastating to enemy aircraft, especially if aircraft in question were not as well armored as P-47.

In Vietnam, Read the rest of this entry »

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F-35s air-to-air capability or lack thereof

Posted by picard578 on September 1, 2013

Air Power Australia’s predictions about F-35s reduced performance have come true: sustained turn rate specifications have been reduced. This should not have been a surprise. F-35 was never designed as an air superiority aircraft; from its conception on, it was designed as a strike aircraft and tactical bomber.   F-35s visual-range performance is rather lacking. Read the rest of this entry »

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