posted on Jul, 6 2006 @ 12:37 AM
A direct qoute from aviation now that may explain why the JUCAV project was scrapped - I think maybe Lockheed have come up with the mother of all
combat ucavs and have won the game. Especially when i read that DARPA were sniffing around the program and took two airframes for 'evaluation and
'AvLeak is now officially a branch of the U.S. government.' They report the news but lack the objective editorialism to keep from being suckered by
pre-spun 'announcements' without regard to context.
"In addition to the intelligence-gathering UAV that Lockheed Martin developed using its own money, the Skunk Works also has been developing a
classified UCAV demonstration program at least since 2000 with the idea of competing against Boeing's X-45 and Northrop Grumman's X-47 UCAV
demonstrators (AW&ST Sept. 25, 2000, p. 28). Now Northrop Grumman, as the prime contractor, and Lockheed Martin have announced last week that they
will collaborate on UCAV projects under the newly established Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-led joint program office."
And the foxes say: "That ain't no chicken it's a trout!"
The USAF 'bought out' the DARPA effort when it became clear that they could end up seeing a UDS or UCAV Demo System exit phase by 2006, in time to
compete with the JSF PWSC 'proof of rampup' (the AF wanted to narrow the range to no-other-option of course).
This was waaaaay back in the early millenium, if not before. Showing you that they new _exactly_ how bad the JSF was going to end up reeking of money
pit and that they were politically astute enough to assure the crib kill by playing Kronos.
Now, having successfully bloated the X-45 system concept from the A up to the C, Iraq provided a useful excuse to cancel for convenience as an excuse
to avoid robotic air. 'And never mind that it's exactly what we need over there while the worthless pilots yeowl at being forced to do NTISR'.
And because the military is foolishly allowed to run their own house in the R&D area, Congress can only sit there and twiddle their lips waiting to
sign a check on whatever else comes out of the back room.
Of course not even the AF may have known what a CF would arise from Iraq's playout as a function of rampup delays and tech negotiations over the F-35
as well. And now that the U.S. service needs are looking at approximately one third to one half the original order (i.e., not 28 million, not 45
million but _107 million apiece and rising_), the JSF 'bubble' on buyers has likely collapsed for the last time.
Which means Congress ain't interested because they do AF pork programming only to make money at home and _on debt_ and that now looks to be a lost
cause as we have effectively sold the American People a bill of goods via 'guaranteed' export pricing among other stupidities of
Of course the AF always has a hole card (unlike those moronic idjits at Navair, they cheat preemptively rather than playing hard to get until they
have to cheat not to lose).
Apparently in this case, a 'black program' the total funding levels and economic pricing scalars (fleet size to dollars on a productionization
effort) of which no one outside of SAR will ever know or reveal. And so not only is Boeing stuck with flying a technology testbed for /systems/ which
will likely migrate to the new program (if there is one, which I seriously doubt) but Lunchmeat gets to rake in a big fat R&D card.
Whether they will break Anti Deficiency laws by using this 'black UCAV' as a slush fund to keep the F-35 on life support or will simply dump the
effort (trojan horse filled with little JSFs) and 'reauthorize' funds once the budget crisis is fixed (new POTUS) doesn't matter, they exist to
fund their own existence, not to ensure the defense of our nation.
The manned uber alles AF wants JSF to keep their precious cockpit counts edge over the Navy at at least twice what they need to be for a PCW (Post
Cold War) fleet level (especially equipped with miniature IAMs).
And so the JSF they _will_ have.
In this they function more like Hoffa's truckers than anything. They will haul along any capability you want. So long as it's theirs to refuse to
They just got rolled all over by Lockheed
Boeing is playing newbie in a restricted field. They would be well advised to look to Northrop and their struggles to become more than a niche player
in the wake of the _entire_ F-5 program as a model. Something they should have known when they tried to buy reputation with the 'failed business
model' that was MACDAC after the A-12.
The combination of Texan and Georgian politics is set to own tactical military aviation in this country, destroying design diversity and opposed as
much as complimentary strike capabilities. This will make the MIC political element of any outyear reprogrammable contract awards obvious for what it
is of course, leaving Lunchmeat the whore who will sleep with any requirement so long as it feeds her bottomline.
But it will be (and indeed, probably already is) too late to save the industry as it was.
Mind you, you have to be complete /git/ to want to be a system integrator (prime) these days anyway. Something Vought and Grumman and a slew of other
companies realized a decade ago or more.