A Baker’s Dozen of Our Best Stories of 2018
(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted Dec. 27, 2018)
PARIS --- As we move into 2019, we have selected a baker’s dozen of our most-read or most-quoted stories, and offer them here in reverse chronological order.

Happy reading, and Happy New Year!


Déjà Chopper: Why the Marines Are Buying a Troubled Aircraft Again

(Source: Center for Defense Information at POGO; posted Dec 12, 2018)

By Mark Thompson


The Navy’s fleet of H-53 helicopters has a terrible safety record. That’s been made clear in a new documentary film, “Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn,” which dives into the welter of wrongs that led to the 2014 death of Wes Van Dorn, a 2007 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who left behind a widow and their two children when his MH-53E crashed into the Atlantic Ocean moments after a worn electrical wire ignited an on-board inferno.

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Outsmarted and Outmaneuvered, France Loses Belgian Fighter Bid

(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted Oct 29, 2018)

By Giovanni de Briganti


PARIS --- Belgium’s decision to buy Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters is a textbook demonstration of how a government can manipulate billions of euros of public investment towards a pre-selected candidate, while ostensibly conducting a transparent international tender.

It is also a spectacular failure of Europe’s joint defense, and illustrates how Belgium, like other European countries, is quite happy to play lip service to initiatives such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) as long as they promise additional cash for its defense industry and R&D, but is not prepared to let it interfere with its procurement decisions.

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Experiments In Hyper-Speed

(Source: US Army ALT Magazine; posted Aug 16, 2018)

by Mary Kate Aylward


What are hypersonic weapons, why does the Army want them, and are they as revolutionary as they sound?

1998: U.S. intelligence locates Osama bin Laden at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. Navy ships in the Arabian Sea launch cruise missiles, which take two hours to reach the target 1,100 miles away. The camp is destroyed but bin Laden survives: He had left less than an hour earlier.

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Australia’s Future Frigates: Looking Behind the Hyperbole

(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted July 02, 2018)

By Giovanni de Briganti


PARIS --- Australia’s announcement that it has selected BAE Systems as the preferred tenderer to supply nine Hunter-class “Future Frigates” under the SEA 5000 program has generated great enthusiasm – and great hyperbole– in Britain, most of it based on wrong assumptions.

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Opinion: Open Tenders Cripple Defence Procurement At Great Cost

(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted June 25, 2018)

By Giovanni de Briganti


PARIS --- The recent implosion of Belgium’s competition to find a successor to its F-16 fighters is but the most recent failure of a fashion that appeared after the end of the Cold War and which holds that open competitions are the best and most proper way of buying military equipment.

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France, Germany Agree Future Fighter Requirements

(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted April 6, 2018)

By Giovanni de Briganti


PARIS --- France and Germany plan to announce major advances in two combat aircraft programs at the ILA air show which opens April 25 in Berlin, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said Thursday after meeting here with her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen.

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Eurofighter’s AESA Radar at “Very High Risk” of Missing Delivery Deadline

(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted April 6, 2018)

By Giovanni de Briganti


PARIS --- The development of the Captor-E electronically scanned radar for the Eurofighter combat aircraft is running 13 months late, and there is a “very high risk” that it will miss the initial delivery date of late 2018, according to a German Ministry of Defence report released in late March.

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The Pentagon’s 21st Century Icarus

(Source: Project On Government Oversight; issued March 12, 2018)

By Mark Thompson


An ancient Greek tale says that Icarus drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after he ignored his father’s advice to fly low to avoid the sun’s warmth during their attempted escape from the isle of Crete. He chose instead to soar upward on his manmade wings, where the sun melted the wax binding his feathers to his body and sent him plunging to his death. But it wasn’t so much heat, as hubris, that doomed him.

Adventurers have been trying to cheat the heavens ever since. And, as was the case with Icarus, aviation’s weak link is often the human at the helm.

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Cost of F-35 Block 4 Upgrade Quadruples But May Not Suffice

(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted March 09, 2018)

PARIS --- The cost of the F-35’s Block 4 upgrade program – the one that should allow the aircraft to finally meet its full contractual specifications – has quadrupled since August, according to the latest estimates that emerged during March 7 congressional hearings.

In August, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Block 4 upgrade should be managed as a major defense program because of its high cost, which it then estimated at $3.9 billion.

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Russian President Signs New State Armaments Program

(Source: Forecast International; posted Feb 28, 2018)

by Derek Bisaccio


The document detailing the new Russian State Armaments Program (SAP), covering the years 2018 to 2027, has been signed, according to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin, who spoke to Kommersant in an interview in late February. In this timeframe, Russia will spend over $300 billion on the procurement of new military hardware as part of an effort to equip its forces with modern systems.

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Uncertain Times Take Airbus Back to the Drawing Board

(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; posted Feb 14, 2018)

By Andreas Spaeth


TOULOUSE, France --- It was a surprise not to see Airbus' legendary sales boss John Leahy sitting on the podium at the company's Singapore Air Show press briefing last week: In his place was his successor Eric Schulz.

After more than 30 years at Airbus, where Leahy played a key role in turning the European aircraft-making consortium from a newcomer into the global market leader, the 67-year-old New Yorker has sold his villa in Toulouse and is moving back home.

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France Launches Air Force Modernization but Defers Most Funding

(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted Feb 09, 2018)

By Giovanni de Briganti


PARIS --- Although it is not the most favored service in France’s 2019-2025 Military Planning Law (LPM), which earmarks €295 billion to modernize the armed forces, the French air force’s capabilities are due to grow substantially over the next decade.

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The Navy’s $1 Billion Frigate

(Source: Project On Government Oversight; issued Jan 22, 2018)

By Mark Thompson


Having failed to produce an affordable and capable Littoral Combat Ship, Lockheed Martin is hoping to interest the US Navy in its proposal for the new FFG(X) future frigate concept.
Maybe the third time will be the charm in the Navy’s lengthy quest to buy a cheap warship. Of course, that depends on your definition of “cheap”: the service announced last month that it’s willing to pay close to $1 billion a copy for its smallest warships. It comes in the wake of fumbles involving the Navy’s post-Vietnam Oliver Hazard Perry class of frigates and its successor, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), which has been limping around the high seas for close to a decade.

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