Mark Collins – Production Contract for New USAF Big Bomber (LRS-B) Next Year? Plus Russkies

The service certainly hopes to get this program–its major combat aircraft one after the F-35A–seriously taking off very smartly.  Will the money be there over time?  And will the cost per plane be met?  Not to mention desired capabilities:

Air Force Plans Major Step in Long Range Strike Bomber Program

The Air Force plans to award a contract to build its new bomber to a single vendor by next spring or summer as part of its ongoing effort to engineer a stealthy long range bomber that can evade advanced air defenses, service leaders said Sept. 15 at the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference at National Harbor, Maryland.

“We’re about ready to enter into the next phase of the bomber. We’ve spent the last couple of years refining the requirements and maturing the technology. Within the next year we will down-select to one contractor and then start the heavy lifting of building the first bomber and testing,” Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, military deputy for Air Force acquisition, told Military​.com in an interview.

The new Long-Range Strike Bomber program, or LRS-B, plans to have new planes in the fleet by the mid-2020s. The Air Force ultimately plans to acquire as many as 80 to 100 new bombers for a price of roughly $550 million per plane, she added.

The Air Force has made the Long Range Strike Bomber one of its top priorities and successfully protected it from the cuts other weapons programs have sustained..

Although much of the details of the LRS-B development are not publicly available, Air Force leaders have said the aircraft will likely be engineered to fly unmanned and manned missions. Air Force officials also want it to be nuclear capable and have the ability to cross the globe in hours [emphasis added]…

The new aircraft will be designed to have global reach, in part by incorporating a large arsenal of long-range weapons. The LRS-B is being engineered to carry existing weapons as well as emerging and future weapons, Pawlikowski explained…

But Bill Sweetman of Aviation Week and Space Technology has some doubts about the conduct of the program (piece clearly written before above interview confirming planned 2015 date):

Opinion: Bomber Secrecy Should Be Reviewed

Only mushrooms thrive in the dark
…Public information on LRS-B comprises three basic numbers: a $550 million unit acquisition cost, an 80-100 aircraft fleet and a 2025 in-service date—and a budget profile out to 2019.
Congressional Research Service analyst Jeremiah Gertler concludes from that profile that the next step is full-scale development, founded on secret demonstration programs that survived the 2009 cancellation of the 2018-delivery Next Generation Bomber (NGB). That would place the competitors—a Boeing/Lockheed Martin team and Northrop Grumman—in a direct contest for a source selection next year.
If Gertler is right, the secrecy surrounding LRS-B is more expansive than for any aircraft program of its size since the 1980s...
…there has been a good deal of sensible work on the LRS-B requirement. From all accounts, it represents a step back from the NGB requirements, with less payload and persistence, and designed as part of a family of systems rather than an all-capable “Battlestar Galactica.” It exploits new developments in stealth technology that make it more robust across wavebands, aspect angles and time.
For a downsized aircraft, $550 million is, at least, not unrealistically low and it appears that not only is the cost capped, but that major physical characteristics (such as payload) have been constrained as well. Keeping technical details secret can be defended…
…some Pentagon leaders and airpower philosophers are in favor of more long-range aircraft and missiles, which, absent fiscal miracles, mean fewer fighters. Whatever the merits of this argument, it will go precisely nowhere so long as its advocates can show nothing except a generic black-draped shape labeled “trust me.”..
As we saw when the B-2 came under attack the moment that it was unveiled, secrecy strangles the pro-bomber case. After you have spent many years and billions of dollars keeping secrets, it looks opportunistic at best to lift the veil when the program is threatened…

Earlier:

[LRS-B mentioned]

The Russians have their own plans for a new bomber (first flight 2019 with service delivery 2023?), of much interest to NORAD if things proceed–and very relevant to the capabilities of the new RCAF fighter for which continental air defence is the primary mission.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Northeast Passage Shipping: Not So Easy

Further to this post (at which the NW passage is also noted),

it’s not been an easy year in the Russian north:
Heavy ice on NSR may cool investors
Northern Sea Route. Photo: PA 

No transits through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) have been completed so far this year, which could bring the route’s long-term viability into question, experts have told IHS Maritime.NSR Administration has given permission for 577 transits, but vessels navigating the NSR water area total only 99, with no completed voyages. NSR transits usually start in July and run until November.Last year, 71 vessels transited the NSR, starting at the end of June, with the last transit at the end of November…

Despite this year’s lag, the Russian government expects a 10-15% annual increase in cargo transiting the NSR and is gearing up for work with three new nuclear icebreakers due on stream in 2017-21, said [Mikå] Mered [CEO of Arctic consultancy Polarisk].

Only time will tell; but no great surge now.Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – US Neo-Imperialism and Liberating Iraq

One wonders what the–majority–Shia Iraqis, indeed the Iraqi government, think about the US government ordering up foreign Arab Sunni troops to fight in their country; one also wonders to what extent Sunnis in ISIS-held territory will welcome being bombed by their co-religionists:

1) White House says allies’ pledges of ground troops to fight Islamic militants may come soon


White House chief of staff Denis McDonough signaled that the State Department in coming days will name allies that will pledge ground troops to fight the Islamic State group, something the United States does not plan to do…

McDonough repeatedly declined to name any nations willing to provide ground forces, and he was cautious in suggesting what might develop.

On NBC television’s “Meet the Press,” [Sept. 14] McDonough said Secretary of State John Kerry “over the coming days” will discuss whether any allied nation has pledged ground troops. “And what he has said is that others have suggested that they’re willing to do that,” McDonough said.

Pressed again on possible pledges of combat troops, McDonough seemed slightly less hesitant. “You will hear from Secretary Kerry that countries are saying that they’re ready to do that,” he said…

2) Arab Nations Offer to Fight ISIS From Air

More on neo-imperialism.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Caliphate’s Foreign Jihadis and its Money (black gold)

Not good news:

How foreign fighters are swelling ISIS ranks in startling numbers

France says 930 citizens or residents involved ‘in jihad

Nations rush to cut off flow of fighters headed to Islamic State

Islamic State Group’s War Chest Is Growing Daily

Turkey unwilling to help U.S. stem Islamic State oil sales

Related:

Caliphate: Black Gold, and More, For Black Flag–Plus Good Management

Jihadi Foreign Fighters, UK, Canadian and US Update

Foreign Jihadis, Turkey and the Caliphate

New Islamic Order, what (cf. the “I” word here)?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – The US Oil Behemoth, Part 2

Further to this post, the big picture:

Falling prices threaten Canadian oil patch momentum
Are we the never never energy superpower?
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Nope: Maybe Americans Will Now Notice Canadian Military Advisers for Iraq

British, Germans and French do get discussed in this Foreign Policy piece (typical of US coverage); at least Aussies not mentioned either:

Sigh. Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – That Stormy South China Sea

Excerpts from a book review–I think the conclusion straddles the target:

Waves of trouble
A new book dips into toxic waters around Asia

The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia. By Bill Hayton. Yale University Press; 298 pages; $35 and £20. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

The book is…sobering, since it discerns no credible solution to the disputes. The Chinese nine-dash line [see map below] is claimed also by Taiwan, as the descendant of the “Republic of China” whose mapmakers produced it. It sweeps through the “exclusive economic zones” asserted under UNCLOS by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The Philippines is challenging its legal validity. But even if it wins, UNCLOS cannot adjudicate on sovereignty over islands, rocks or shoals. And China will ignore it anyway…

What makes the disputes so dangerous is a toxic mix of domestic and international politics. In China the nine-dash line has been elevated into a nationalist symbol of the country’s efforts to overturn the humiliations it suffered at foreign hands in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But in Vietnam, for example, about which Mr Hayton writes with particular perceptiveness, the government faces pressure from critics eager to seize on any instance of “softness” towards China. Criticism of China has become a proxy for criticism of Vietnam’s own ruling Communists.
 

Most alarming is the fact that the sea has become the theatre for a battle of nerves between China and America [more at end]

…When Mr Hayton began working on his book, he believed that some kind of conflict over the sea was imminent. He subsequently became convinced that Chinese leaders understand they would lose a shooting war and are desperate to avoid it, using instead what they call “the period of strategic opportunity” to build up China’s strength. Since they know the other side must grasp this, however, they have to appear belligerent. This is an intriguing argument. But this strategy is so vulnerable to miscalculation, misperception and sheer bad luck, that it is not a very reassuring one.

Indeed.  Earlier, note “Comments”:
Also:
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – What Does Confucius Say? Well, the Institutes are Chicom Fronts, Part 2

Further to this post, The Economist deals with the US situation:

Soft power
Confucius says
A decade ago China began opening centres abroad to promote its culture. Some people are pushing back
“HARMONY is the most valuable of all things,” said the Chinese philosopher Confucius two and a half millennia ago. There is little of it in evidence in the frosty relationship between the woman who was the founding director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Oregon, Bryna Goodman, and her fellow historian, Glenn May. Their offices are separated by a ten-second walk, but the scholars do not exchange visits. Their palpable ill feeling reflects growing discord among Western scholars about a decade-old push by China to open government-funded cultural centres in schools and universities abroad. Intended to boost China’s “soft power”, the centres take the name of the peace-espousing sage. They tap into growing global demand for Chinese-language teaching. But they are also fuelling anxiety about academic freedom.In America the Confucius programme has been widely welcomed by universities and school districts, which often do not have enough money to provide Chinese-language teachers for all who need them. But critics like Mr May believe China’s funding comes at a price: that Confucius Institutes (as those established on university campuses are known) and school-based Confucius Classrooms restrain freedom of speech by steering discussion of China away from sensitive subjects.

In June the American Association of University Professors called for universities to end or revise their contracts with Confucius Institutes (America has 100 of them) because they “function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom”...

Surprised?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

 

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Mark Collins – US Cyber Security: Government Vulnerability; New Army Brigade

Mark Collins – US Cyber Security: Government Vulnerability; New Army Brigade

Two headlines:

1) Every Part of the US Government Has Probably Already Been Hacked

2) US Army Activates Its First Cyber Protection Brigade

Earlier:

Burgeoning US Cyber Command–Plus the UK (and Canada)

US Cyber Update: They Are Very Serious…

…unlike the Canadian government…

Canadian Federal Government Cyber Preparedness: Hah!

 

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Putin: Master of the Russian Military-Industrial Complex

The Russian president is certainly not like Ike (more here) as he takes ever more charge:

Putin grabs reins of military rebuilding in response [so he claims] to NATO operations

Russian President Vladimir Putin took personal control of his country’s Military-Industrial Commission on Wednesday, saying Russia needed to respond quickly to mounting “threats” at a time of heightening tensions with NATO over Ukraine…

“There are a lot of new threats appearing. As you know, not long ago, a decision was taken on building up NATO forces in Eastern Europe,” Mr. Putin told a meeting to discuss a planned $560-billion (U.S.) overhaul of Russia’s military over the next 12 years. In remarks released by the Kremlin, he accused NATO of trying to start a new arms race and said Russia, while reticent, was “forced – absolutely forced – to take appropriate measures in response.”

Mr. Putin said maintaining Russia’s nuclear deterrent would remain core to Russia’s defence strategy. “First of all, we are talking about creating a rational series of assault capabilities, including maintaining a guaranteed solution to the task of nuclear deterrence,” he said…

By assuming control of the Military-Industrial Commission, Mr. Putin has taken on the challenge of reviving Russia’s once-mighty defence industry at a time when it’s cut off from Western technologies. In effect, he has become the sole arbiter of how much Russia’s military should pay to which defence company for which type of armament…

Relevant:

 

US Nuking Up Bear Threat via Canada (bombers that is)

All in all Bad Vlad seems to be enjoying the exercise of power a lot more than many Western leaders (including Prime Minister Harper):

Obama Opportunity, or, Bad Vlad’s “Fun, Fun, Fun”


Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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