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Author: TriSec    Date: 09/06/2016 09:39:37

Good Morning.

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend.

As a product of hopefully American Labor, let's take a look at a couple of equipment and gear stories today. Of course, we'll start with my favourite whipping post, the "Flying Turd". Despite what you may have heard recently about it being combat-ready, there's still evidence to the contrary.

A week after the Air Force declared its version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet ready for limited combat operations, the Pentagon’s top tester warned that the U.S. military’s costliest weapons program is still riddled with deficiencies.

“In fact the program is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the aircraft’s full capabilities, “for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion by the scheduled end” of its development in 2018, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing, said in an Aug. 9 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Achieving full combat capability with the Joint Strike Fighter is at substantial risk” of not occurring before development is supposed to end and realistic combat testing begins, he said of the F-35.

The memo provides a timely reminder of an issue that the next president and defense secretary will inherit. They are scheduled to decide in 2019 whether to let the fighter jet move into full production, the most lucrative phase for Lockheed, the biggest U.S. defense contractor. It’s also an issue for U.S. allies that have committed to buy the plane, including the U.K., Italy, Australia, Japan and Israel.

The Air Force made its declaration of initial combat capability on Aug. 2, but “most of the limitations” previously identified with software, data fusion, electronic warfare and weapons employment continue, Gilmore wrote.

The program “is running out of time and money to complete the planned flight testing and implement the required fixes and modifications” needed to finish the phase successfully, he said. “Flight testing is making progress but has fallen far behind the planned rate.”

The most complex software capabilities “are just being added” and new problems requiring fixes and verification testing “continue to be discovered at a substantial rate,” Gilmore wrote to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James; General David Goldfein, the service’s chief of staff; and Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acquisitions chief.

During a meeting with reporters in Singapore on Wednesday, James said the F-35 has “reached the point of initial combat capability, so that’s what we said we were going to have by now and we’ve got it. But ‘initial ’means initial and over the next several years it’s going to continue to develop, and the word ‘develop’ is an important word too.”

“If you go back over the entire history of the F-35 there is no question that over that history it’s taken longer and it has cost more money than originally anticipated but that is part and parcel of a development program,” she said.

Oh, well. I guess we'll keep throwing money down that hole. After all, it is for war. Can't underspend there. Maybe the Navy is having better luck with their new toy. I'm not talking about the Zumwalt - there's another new combat type that's undergoing testing. It's something called an LCS, and is designed for shallow-water and inshore combat. Something we already had a ship for. ("Destroyers"). But those don't seem to be working, either.

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom will need an engine rebuild or replacement after a seawater leak resulted in significant damage, Navy officials said.

The Freedom is the third ship in the Freedom class of LCS, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., to suffer an engine casualty in the last year. The news of the incident, which happened July 11, was announced by the Navy on Sunday night.

The Freedom, the first ship in its class, returned to its homeport at Naval Base San Diego, California, on July 13 under its own power to conduct repairs on an unrelated issue, officials with Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a release.

While in port, personnel examined the leak, which happened at the seawater pump mechanical seal, allowing seawater to enter the engine lube oil system and damage the ship's second main propulsion diesel engine, officials said.

The crew performed seawater contamination procedures, but opted to return to sea to participate in the Rim of the Pacific multinational exercise, from July 19 to 28, using its gas turbine engines rather than its main diesel engines.

During RIMPAC, Freedom operated off the coast of southern California, training in mine interdiction warfare with American and allied ships.

Following the exercise, the ship returned to port. An Aug. 3 inspection of the number 2 diesel engine, conducted by Southwest Regional Maintenance Center's Diesel Engine Inspector, determined that rust and seawater had caused significant permanent damage to the engine.

"Based on initial assessments from the inspection, Freedom's #2 [main propulsion diesel engine] will need to be removed and rebuilt or replaced," officials said in the release.

Navy officials say the cost of the repair and the timeline for getting the work done remain unknown. Also unknown, they said, is whether crew error or mechanical failure, or both, are responsible for the casualty. The commander of Naval Surface Forces, Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, is overseeing an investigation into the incident.

In a statement, Rowden said this engineering casualty, which happened eight months after the USS Fort Worth was sidelined in Singapore due to a crew-caused engine casualty, indicated a need for "improvements in engineering oversight and training."

"The recently completed LCS Review of manning, design, and training looked at a number of sailor performance and ownership factors, to include crew rotation, size and proficiency," he said. "From this work, I believe we will be able to make immediate changes to help reduce chance for future operator error. I am fully committed to ensuring that our ships and the Sailors who man them have the proper tools and training they need to safely and effectively operate these ships."

What's that you say? Both of these things are made by Lockheed? Interesting. (And it just popped up in my feed this morning - a fourth one has broken down, too.)

Oh well, maybe we should just give up and buy a car. We ought to be pretty good at that, right? Just don't try to ship it overseas if you get deployed. Of course there is a loophole. (Yes, I know it's about Toyota. Maybe it was built in the US, though.)

A military couple whose U.S.-purchased 2013 Toyota RAV4 SUV experienced major mechanical problems while they were stationed in Germany is hoping the car company will be forced either to replace their vehicle or refund their money.

Army Sgt. John Snell and his wife Christina purchased the vehicle in Georgia before their permanent change of station to Germany, according to their lawyer.

They were told by the dealership that the warranty and protections against catastrophic vehicle defects, known as "lemon laws," would apply while they were stationed overseas, said T. Michael Flinn, the couple's attorney.

But when the vehicle experienced major mechanical problems caused by a faulty anti-lock brake system actuator, the dealership in Germany was unable to make the repairs in under 30 days -- the timecap required by Georgia's law before the car is declared a "lemon," or unsafe vehicle.

Under that law, Toyota is required to replace the vehicle, but the company instead claimed that the warranty did not apply because the Snells took the vehicle out of the U.S.

Although a Georgia arbitration panel ruled last year that Toyota must replace the vehicle, the company is appealing the decision. A hearing on the matter will likely be held in Georgia early next year.

The struggle highlights a loophole in the lemon laws, said Rosemary Shahan, who leads the lobbying group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

Instead of protecting service members, the laws allow companies to take advantage of military families by inadvertently excluding them from protection measures when they are stationed overseas, she said.

"When people are in the military, they don't surrender their rights," said Shahan, who was married to a Navy JAG officer for 20 years. "They bought this car in the United States, they are U.S. citizens ... I just don't quite understand why Toyota is doing this."

Well, Ms. Shahan, how about a one-word answer? Greed.

20 comments (Latest Comment: 09/07/2016 01:10:04 by Scoopster)
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Comment by wickedpam on 09/06/2016 13:21:25

Comment by Will in Chicago on 09/06/2016 13:51:05
Good morning!!!

TriSec, thanks for a great blog. I fear that greed may help explain all the entries in today's blog. Lockheed seems to be a bit greedy in having more tax dollars going into products that do not seem very well designed.

Comment by wickedpam on 09/06/2016 13:51:19

Comment by Will in Chicago on 09/06/2016 13:54:58
Quote by wickedpam:

I have no objections to this deal. Heck, I hope that the gates of Hell opened wide to receive her.

Comment by wickedpam on 09/06/2016 14:03:27
Quote by Will in Chicago:
Quote by wickedpam:

I have no objections to this deal. Heck, I hope that the gates of Hell opened wide to receive her.

Same here.

Comment by velveeta jones on 09/06/2016 14:05:11

Comment by Mondobubba on 09/06/2016 14:08:47
Re: the passing of Mrs. Schlafly:

Comment by Scoopster on 09/06/2016 14:10:58
Mornin' all..

Good riddance to her. I hope she burns in Hell.

Hillary should come out TODAY and call for re-passage and ratification of the ERA. She has to do something to break thru this damn media wall because it's KILLING HER CAMPAIGN.

Comment by Raine on 09/06/2016 14:36:39
good morning!

Comment by Will in Chicago on 09/06/2016 14:42:41
Quote by Scoopster:
Mornin' all..

Good riddance to her. I hope she burns in Hell.

Hillary should come out TODAY and call for re-passage and ratification of the ERA. She has to do something to break thru this damn media wall because it's KILLING HER CAMPAIGN.

I hear more about Trump and the horse race. Indeed, I think that Thom Hartmann is right in saying that the media wants a close race as there are billions in advertising revenue to spend. (It is high time to use the Sherman Act and break up a LOT of companies.)

As for calling for the ERA to pass, sexual harassment, pay inequality and other problems are still with us. I fear that Hillary Clinton is playing it too safe and may lose several opportunities to generate coat tails for other candidates. Worse, Trump can still win. Let us remember that many people thought Reagan could not win.

Comment by TriSec on 09/06/2016 14:53:24
Hi all. Mum is doing better this week. Things are not as immediately as dire as when she first went in.

Comment by BobR on 09/06/2016 15:24:12
Work is always a pain after a 4 day weekend, and when everyone else is on vacation the rest of the week

Comment by Scoopster on 09/06/2016 15:27:52
I didn't realize the boss & editor were still on vacation today.

I made a full pot of coffee in anticipation of a full office, but I'm the only one here.

This is not helping my efforts to scale back my caffeine consumption.

Comment by Mondobubba on 09/06/2016 15:45:06
Book about the Molasses Flood put on hold at the local lye barry.

Comment by Will in Chicago on 09/06/2016 15:57:29
Over here, we are looking at temperatures in the low 90s today and a heat index around 100.

I am focusing on looking for writing and teaching jobs. I am trying not to lose hope, but few interviews are making me wonder what to do next. (I will listen to some music to relax later.) Am I wrong in thinking that George Carlin said that the only way to believe in the American Dream is to be asleep?

Comment by Raine on 09/06/2016 20:20:20
Good afternoon!

Comment by Raine on 09/06/2016 20:23:29
Priorities USA just put out a new ad:

Comment by BobR on 09/06/2016 23:30:59
I hope the New England contingent is staying afloat

Comment by Scoopster on 09/06/2016 23:37:44
Quote by BobR:
I hope the New England contingent is staying afloat

Well... this was happening down in 'Gansett earlier.


Comment by Scoopster on 09/07/2016 01:10:04