FY11 Defense Budget Not Likely to Include Boeing C-17s, F-35 Engine

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c17_17As opposed to recent years, Boeing’s C-17 cargo planes may not find a place in the FY11 Defense Spending Bill.

Defense officials have urged legislators to veto any motions to keep the program alive and that any additional C-17 planes would prove as wasteful and would oppose the Department of Defense’s effort to trim down on unnecessary spending.

According to CongressDaily, Boeing has lobbied to include five C-17s in fiscal 2011 to supplement international orders and keep the production lines running at optimum speed. However, Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to end the C-17 program with the 223 planes now on order.

Neither the House-passed fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill nor the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version includes funding for more C-17s.

House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Norm Dicks is preparing the defense spending bill and is also expected to also oppose the continuation of the F-35 engine program. His stance on this issue is expected to be debated because the alternate engine would create about 4,000 jobs in several states.

The panel is scheduled to meet next Tuesday and will have many supporters for the engine program. Supporters argue that competition against the F-35’s primary engine would drive down costs on the $100 billion alternate engine program and provide a back-up for the multi-service fighter.

However, Gates sees this program as unnecessary and urged its discontinuation. “Every dollar additional to the budget that we have to put into the F-35 is a dollar taken from something else that the troops may need,” he said last year.

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  1. Colleagues:

    Boeing is to be commended for its continuing and bold support for C-17, despite the forces arrayed against them, as demonstrated yet again by comments expressed above and within CongressDaily. As stated in July 17 and June 1, 2010 releases from Global HeavyLift, (http://ow.ly/2cXvE http://www.slideshare.net/GHHLLC2/ghh-press-release-60110-updated-from-52610-52810-51410-docx3) every effort is being made by elements within the DoD, in collaboration with several international media outlets, both mainstream and in the blogosphere, to dissuade the Indian government, and the IAF, from continuing their efforts to acquire as many as 20 C-17s with the intent of addressing critical strategic/tactical airlift requirements. The latter being considered a necessary and pragmatic move as the China threat grows.

    It is important to mention also, according to direct knowledge, that the Ministry of Defense UK (MODUK) has allowed for the acquisition of 3 more C-17s (a total of 10) to handle current and projected global force projection/humanitarian requirements, while NATO itself is considering expansion of its multi-nation Strategic Airlift pool to 6 aircraft.

    The key incentive for Lockheed-Martin and Airbus-EADS anti-C17 efforts is upwards of USD200 billion in aircraft sales, inclusive of the tanker deal. We include this for the simple reason that our sources advise us that Lockheed-Martin has become a de facto partner to Airbus, with the aim of replacing the “American face” lost with the pull-out of Northrop-Grumman. This arrangement has existed in varying degrees since 2006 when Airbus advised A-400M customers quite disturbed by the continuing delays and mounting costs (prompting South Africa to cancel last year) that if they acquired C-130Js in the interim, they would buy them back when A-400M became available for delivery.

    One final comment regarding the “wisdom” of retrofitting 32-42 year-old C-5s (which have NEVER performed to specification even when new) relative to what seems the “best of use of defense dollars”. Try this:

    A.) 80,000,000 for one REAMP/RERP C-5 = one still near half century old airlifter which has been notoriously unreliable throughout its service life (current: 56% mission completion rate;i.e., half the time it’s flying, half the the time it’s not) and is all but useless in the operational realities of asymmetric and conventional warfare scenarios existing concomitantly — requiring rapid force projection of men and equipment directly to theater. C-5 requires significant airfield infrastructure, C-17 does not, as proven in Afghanistan, Iraq and multiple humanitarian/disaster missions.

    B.) On the other hand, 60.000.000, when utilized in conjunction with a Congressionally approved Transformational Recapitalization defense platform acquisition process as outlined in the November 2004 issue of Defense AT&L, which allows the USAF to resell first generation C-17A models to the private sector for 140.000.000 (market value of C-17, as assessed by one of the most respected aviation consulting firms, is in the 90-140mil range) begets a new C-17 ordered from Boeing, and by State Department mandate, immediate access to the sold C-17A in times of national emergency, or as needed.

    Result: A 20,000,000 savings (actually more, since it is known that the C-5 retrofit cost stated by Lockheed-Martin, will again prove unreasonably low and rapidly invoking Nunn-McCurdy) and two C-17s; one new and one with at least half its service life remaining, with a combined capacity of 194 tons.

    Shall we talk again about “best use of available defense dollars” and leave out the invoking of President Eisenhower, who was only referring to unreasonable waste in the defense industrial complex, and not actions that would cripple the country’s ability to defend itself against enemies past, present and future… including China?

    Myron D. Stokes
    Managing Member
    Global HeavyLift Holdings, LLC

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