It's been a lazy couple of weeks around these parts....but now being the Tuesday after Labor Day, I suppose it's time to get serious. Prepare to feel old everyone - Javier is a Senior this year, and now time will start moving relentlessly towards graduation.
But on to the news at hand.
Let's dive right in by looking at one of my favorite whipping posts. Not the F-35 today, but it's stablemate, the F-22. One particular aircraft has been a "hangar queen" for the last 6 years.
Allegedly, it's because repairs were delayed due to the impending sequestration some years back, but it's been gathering mold ever since. No word on what the actual repairs cost, but I bet they could have used those funds elsewhere.
One of the U.S. Air Force's oldest F-22 Raptors is back out of the hangar and ready to fly again after six years idle in a hangar, according to the service.
The fifth-generation stealth jet, tail number 91-4006, had been shelved in 2012 for "needed costly upgrades," and with sequestration just around the corner, Air Force officials made the decision "to put it into storage," the service said in a recent release.
One of the most advanced jet fighters the U.S.operates, alongside the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the newly repaired Raptor, part of the 411th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards Air Force Base, California, was re-unveiled during a ceremony this week in front of base leadership and Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. officials, the release said.
"This was a gainfully employed airplane when she was working," said Steve Rainey, Lockheed Martin F-22 chief test pilot and member of the F-22 Combined Test Force at Edwards.
The decision to hold off maintenance for years underscores the unwieldy cost of U.S. 5th-generation fighters, even as the military may be considering a successor to the F-22 and F-35. Unit cost for the F-22 was around $150 million in 2009 but some estimates put the per-plane cost at closer to $250 million in current-day dollars.
Boeing, Lockheed and the Air Force worked 27 months at Edwards to overhaul the plane to get it back into flying status, the release said. The work was completed in July.
"This included 25,000 man-hours and almost 11,000 individual fixes or parts," the release said.
Air Force officials did not disclose the total cost to repair the aircraft.
The upgrades, which included a new avionics suite, extends the Raptor's life from 2,000 flight hours to 4,000, officials said.
The stealth fighter will now be used as "a flight sciences aircraft," in part of the F-22's fleet modernization effort, the release said.
But then we do have my favourite whipping post today as well. News has come out that a review board has been taking shortcuts and 'downgrading' potentially dangerous shortcomings
with the 'Flying Turd'. Some of the flaws could be deadly.
The Pentagon is downplaying major F-35 Joint Strike Fighter design flaws that could leave service members at risk in an effort to keep the long-scrutinized program on schedule, a watchdog group warned this week.
A military review board met in June to look at some of the F-35's deficiencies. The group downgraded 19 serious problems without a clear plan to fix them all, according to a new report from the Project on Government Oversight, an independent nonpartisan watchdog that exposes government waste, fraud and abuse.
Before the June meeting, POGO reported, the 19 problems had been labeled Category I deficiencies, meaning they "may cause death, severe injury, or severe occupational illness; may cause loss or major damage to a weapon system; critically restrict the combat readiness capabilities of the using organization; or result in a production line stoppage."
During the meeting, the flaws were switched to Category II deficiencies, a less serious classification that means they "could impede or constrain successful mission accomplishment," according to POGO.
"It was a deliberative process that assigned categorizations for each one of those flaws," Dan Grazier, a veteran Marine officer and military fellow with POGO who wrote the report, told Military.com. "For the program to just make little paperwork changes on these things so they could say, 'Oh look, we've cleared up all of these issues,' is pretty alarming."
Some of the problems downgraded by the review board from Category I deficiencies to Category II, according to POGO, include:
- A problem with a transponder that doesn't automatically send an emergency signal when a pilot ejects. That means hours could pass before anyone knew a pilot had ejected and crashed.
- A problem with the arresting tailhook on the Air Force variant of the F-35. Test engineers found the aircraft could be damaged when the tailhook was used in the event of brake failure due to a problem called "upswing."
- F-35 pilots firing precision-guided missiles don't currently confirm target coordinates, which could put troops on the ground at risk of being hit by friendly fire.
No specific plans for fixes to these problems were provided during the meeting in which they were downgraded to a less-severe category, according to the report. "This is not how the development process is supposed to work," Grazier wrote.
We will indeed end today with an actual veteran. We've all had our political issues with the late Senator John McCain. The week-long national funeral seemed a product of a bygone era, and the remarks made by Mr. Obama seem even more haunting in retrospect. This is what a real president looks and sounds like.
But I'll let Yale professor Joan Cook speak on this issue. While the President may like people that weren't captured, it behooves the rest of us to honour there service and sacrifice.
On Saturday, John McCain, the U.S. Republican senator from Arizona, a war hero and two-time presidential contender, died. As remembrances of him pour out, let us not focus on partisan politics and which political party currently favored him more.
As a trauma psychologist who has spent the past 20 years working with combat veterans and former prisoners of war, I implore my fellow Americans to say our goodbyes to this American hero in a very different way. As Senator McCain, a man who was held prisoner of war for five-and-a-half years in Vietnam, lost his battle to brain cancer, let us take this opportunity to open our hearts and minds to the men and women who serve in uniform, particularly the diminishing number of former POWs.
I have had the privilege of clinically working with dozens of former POWs, typically combatants who were taken hostage and held by an enemy power during World War II, the Korean Conflict or the Vietnam War. What many Americans may not know or remember is that fewer combatants are taken hostage nowadays. The reasons for this are many, including the changing nature of combat, such as the lower ability on our enemies' part to use large amounts of mortar, artillery fire and airstrikes. Compared to World War II, where the number of POWs was over 100,000, the Vietnam War had relatively few, with fewer than 800 Americans known to have been held captive. But when you work with a POW and hear what he went through while in captivity, and the long-standing effects post-captivity, you realize that one is too many.
These men were cut off from the life they used to know, the comforts of home and the arms of their loved ones. They also suffered severe and extended exposure to captivity trauma. The tactics commonly used by captors are isolation, deprivation, abuse and interrogation. Most U.S. POWs were treated very harshly, but imperial Japan, the North Koreans, Chinese and the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were particularly brutal. Our men, and sometimes women, were actively beaten and tortured. They were forced to stand or kneel for hours and sometimes days on end. They were denied and deprived of food, water and medical care. They were threatened with death and had to see and hear their fellow soldiers being tortured. These men had their arms and leg bound by ropes, ratchet handcuffs, leg irons or stocks, and were stretched for long periods of time. Can you imagine the physical pain and the emotional terror?
And, on top of that, they felt profound loneliness and humiliation.
Understandably, these men were in a hurry to return home. Hardly any received reintegration or rehabilitation upon release. And, the results of their captivity trauma followed them. The lifelong effects of captivity cannot be overstated. The consequences of being a former POW are extensive and well-documented.
There is more at the link; please take the time to read it today.