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F-35B put on 2-year probation   (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The Air Force may finally get a new tanker next month while F-35B is on probation

Any major program to procure new aircraft for the U.S. military is going to be long and the competition between bidders will be fierce since the contracts can be worth billions. One of these important and very costly projects for new aircraft is the F-35 project with versions slated for use in three branches of the military.

The USAF has noted that the initial operational capability (IOC) date for the F-35 is likely to slip beyond current projections. The revelation came from Air Force Secretary Michael Donley at a breakfast with reporters on January 12.

The reason for the delay in the IOC for the F-35 aircraft program came after a detailed Technical Baseline Review by Ashton Carter, the DoD procurement chief, and Joint Strike Fighter program manager Vice Adm. David Venlet. The report concluded that additional time and money was needed to complete the development of the F-35.

Donley said, "I think that's [delays in the IOC] implied with the additional dollars and time required in system development."

The biggest change in the F-35 program to come after the review was that the F-35B vertical landing variant of the aircraft has been put on a two-year probationary period. The F-35B was also decoupled from the carrier and conventional versions of the fighter to avoid delaying the other two versions significantly. The UK armed forces have already decided not to buy the F-35B, and will be ordering the carrier version instead.

Donley said, "The major decision from this TBR has been to decouple the testing of the U.S. Marine short take-off vertical-landing variant from the conventional and carrier variants to ensure we do not slow progress on the conventional and carrier variants."

Another even higher profile project that the Air Force is working on is the long running and problem plagued replacement for the aerial tankers in use. The drama surrounding the bidding process has gone on for years and a winner still hasn’t been selected. 

According to Defense News, EADS has stated that it expects the Air Force to pick a tanker in February. EADS also expects that it will be chosen the winner over rival Boeing.

EADS of North America CEO Sean O'Keefe said, "The contract award, which was announced as part of the request-for-proposal solicitation, was to have been around the middle of November last year. It has moved further toward next month, just as a consequence of due diligence."

The contract was supposed to have been awarded in November of 2010, but was delayed again. The DoD is seeking to make the award "not contestable" to avoid a rehash of what happened with the first contract award.

O'Keefe said, "Every indication would suggest that next month is more likely to be the contract award targeting period."

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RE: Amazing to think...
By Solandri on 1/13/2011 8:28:59 PM , Rating: 3
China has no control over the rates. Past debt was sold by the U.S. Treasury at interest rates which are calculated by a formula. There is nothing China can do to alter the rates they're paid on the U.S. treasury securities they own.

Once a treasury security is sold, that's it from the U.S. government's viewpoint. The amount they pay for that debt is fixed and settled the security is sold. The market price of the security may fluctuate after its initial sale, but that only affects the amount of money changing hands between buyers and sellers of securities, not the U.S. government. Like one bank selling your mortgage to another does not change the terms nor rate.

What China can do is raise the interest rate for new debt incurred by the U.S. But the only way they can do that is by not buying any new U.S. debt (in which case decreased demand would push the interest rate higher), or by selling debt they current hold (in which case the increased supply would push the interest rate for new debt higher to make it more attractive to buyers than old debt). But these are normal market forces, not something directly under the control of China.

And I highly doubt they're going to upset the apple cart because over 10% of their economy is based on exports to the U.S. They need the U.S. economy to keep running (hobbling) along to keep it driving a lot of their growth. In fact that's the reason they've been buying our debt in the first place. Because their economic boom is a deliberate bubble manufactured by extending loans to the U.S. and EU (buying their debt), instead of investing the money they're getting from trade imbalances into building new factories and R&D.

RE: Amazing to think...
By a1trips on 1/18/2011 11:57:30 AM , Rating: 2
China wont upset the apple cart because they are already getting what they want.
free pass for North Korea: Act of war goes unpunished, why? eh eh, money money.
Free pass for Pakistan: Plus billions in aid: whose kidding who here: Every MRE that gets sent to Pakistan today will eventually be used by soldiers fighting against American troops,never mind the weapons.. but eh. Tweedledum doo and dumb.
Free Pass for aggression against India: yeah, u may not have heard of it, but they are actively engaging in territory violations.
Someone tell me one time china lost at something last ten years or so? NO?... ill wait

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