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America, UK Joined at the Hip

July 18, 2009

Despite the gigantic ocean between Great Britain and the USA, we are actually more alike than you can imagine. For instance concerning defense (defence) issues, each have a primary motive for keeping high tech arms in production long past their prime. Here is PM Gordon Brown on the reason for his country’s 5 billion pound supercarriers:

‘We are committed to building aircraft carriers. They give work to all parts of the country.’

And here is military strategist Max Boot on why the USAF should continue purchases of the Cold War era F-22 Raptor stealth jet, at up to $300 million each:

The case for shutting down a production line and throwing 25,000 workers out of a job is a hard one to make while we are still mired in a recession and spending hundreds of billions of dollars to create jobs elsewhere. Buying more F-22s is a more useful way to stimulate the economy than a lot of domestic boondoggles.

Our mutual enemies the terrorists and probably China might be relieved Anglo-American military planners are giving them a relief from our future plans! An angry out of work voter apparently is much more dangerous.

AlsoStrategypage has a simple answer why the British Army in Afghanistan is stretched thin and can’t even get the helicopters it needs:

The main problem here is that, while Britain has a large defense budget (by European standards) of $50 billion, much of it is committed to pay for Cold War era weapons that are of no use in Afghanistan. There, Britain is at war, but most of Britain’s defense budget is still paying for jet interceptors, nuclear submarines (some armed with nuclear missiles) and many other items that were designed for a World War III type conflict against the Soviet Union.

In America-the same problem. While it has a huge defense budget of half a trillion annually, most of this is still paying for Cold War era weapons like giant Burke missile destroyers, aircraft carriers, and that poster child of last century warfare, the F-22 Raptor fighter. They war costs have been coming from annual subsidies, so there is no excuse if we can’t replace worn out weapons. Go Gates, Go!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Sally permalink
    July 20, 2009 11:27 am

    Take everything the liar Brownski the Fabian Fascist says with a pinch of salt.
    He provides work for British people? sorry he’s provided work for anyone but the British!
    In 2004 he cut the budget for helicopters by £1.4 Billion.
    Quango’s cost the country Billions, military spening is pathetic when compared to these and the benefits paid out to his foreign immigrant army.
    We here call these wars White genocide!!
    Our troops come home with serious injuries the M.O.D spy on these troops to make sure their claims for benefits are genuine.
    Yet we pay hate preachers the sum of £1.700 a month to remain off work even though these guys are professionals, but refuse to work in Kaffur countries.
    Our democracy has almost gone, stolen by these Fabian infiltrators those that try that old crap-” we’re in Afghanistan to prevent terror on our streets”
    Too late it’s already here and it’s not Talaban wihout shoes that invaded all western nations, as if!

    Pay out in benefits exceed 100 billion pounds a year thats’ without all these claimants other costs’

    Military spending is chicken feed. but then Brownski has his eye on the EUSSR Army not the British armed forces.


  2. Heretic permalink
    July 20, 2009 10:12 am

    Stealth is a “First Day of the War/First Strike” capability … which lacks a shelf-life and adds spectacular weight+cost and complexity/maintenance to the price of operating the airframe.

    Electronic Warfare is an “Every Day of Every War” capability … meaning you’ll never run out of reasons or requirements for it. And Electronic Warfare capabilities can shield entire attack groups of aircraft … as opposed to Stealth, which only protects yourself (and no one else).

    Selfish … or cooperative?
    Which choice do you think the USAF should be enamored with?

  3. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 19, 2009 6:34 am

    We can only hope, Hudson, but my money is on the new UCAVs!

  4. Hudson permalink
    July 19, 2009 1:27 am

    According to retired army officer Ralph Peters, writing in the New York Post this past week, the F-22 is one of the biggest boondoggles in U.S. military history. The plane is so temperamental it requires 30 to 60 hours of maintenance for every hour in the air, which has earned it the reputation of “hanger queen.” Its stealth skin is very fragile; dirt and sand ruin it. Nearly everyone in a position of authority is trying to kill the program except, of course, senators in key production states. Like you say, it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. Let’s hope the F-35 is a better plane.

  5. Joe permalink
    July 18, 2009 5:29 pm

    When you have C-17 & F-22 programs that reach over 40 states, what was a long time ago started as a practice to help insulate programs against partisan cancellation is now assuring them bipartisan love, regardless of their military worth. That is the battle one must fight to change things, which seems going in like trying to convince pigs to give up their love of mud.

    I have heard the $200M figure for export, so no disagreement there. Per the following article, it says that for a 40-plane order of the F-22’s, the Japanese would be required to pay up to $2 billion to cover removal of some of the planes classified goodies. $2 bil/40 planes = $50M extra per plane, which would average out (overall) to about $200M total per expensive airframe. I’m only guessing, but wouldn’t similiar hypothetical orders for Australia or any other partner include similiar “de-stealth-ification” costs as part of the sticker shock?

    We read much here of your feelings about the F-22…what of your take on the F-35 variants becoming our only fighter/bomber craft in production, eventually?

  6. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 18, 2009 4:33 pm

    West, the politicos don’t mind keeping open productions lines for weapons we don’t use in combat, but why are they against extending the F-16, F-15 which have proven quite effective on the frontlines, replacing old planes with like new ones? But you never hear anyone suggesting such a thing. They must have only the best Buck Rogers’ equipment to fight Bedouins in their tents!

  7. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 18, 2009 4:28 pm

    Joe thats why I added the “up to” in the price estimate, according to which source you hear, this is a true statement. And members of Congress have told the Japanese they would have to pay over $200 million each. I only added Boot’s quote because it coincided with the one from Mr Brown, not for some personal agenda.

    My point wasn’t about the F-22 so much as the continued practice of selling weapons as jobs programs, whatever their relevance or lack of in modern warfare. This always seems to be the last refuge for the pork spenders, putting it to the voters. Of course, all weapons are tied to civilians jobs in some ways, but when such ideas are put above national security, this is immoral and dangerous putting our troops in the frontline at risk, depriving them of essential gear (and the British are suffering far more than us). I continue to rail against such sly tactics by the politicians and military, never fear.

  8. west_rhino permalink
    July 18, 2009 2:39 pm

    Far more effective (job wise) would be spinning up lines to build replacement F-15s, F-16s, A-10s, A-6s and perhaps a few F-14s with tech upgrades… the design work is largely done, so that much needs little capitilization and retraining for new systems…


  9. Joe permalink
    July 18, 2009 1:38 pm


    I feel you selectively quoted Mr. Boot’s article in order to appear to boost your own long-standing opposition to the F-22.

    In general layout format, Mr. Boot’s article gives “pro” and “con” reasons for buying more Raptors, folowed by his own opinion plus a “what if?” compromise position that is independent of his opinion.

    All we saw quoted in your posting was the “pro more Raptors” section, which wasn’t the gist of his entire article. Read it through and one finds that his actual opinion is that (with caveats) we should discontinue the Raptor buys for the United States.

    Yes, he did bring up jobs as a “pro” reason to continue it, but to be the devil’s advocate for a moment, if we axed both the F-22 & F-35, we’d be talking jobs in relation to the upticks at the F-15, F-16, F-18, (revived?)A-10, Harrier, or UCAV lines. Overall defense strategy and needs should be the primary focus and not just what jobs they provide, true dat, but at some point it’s not out of turn to mention the jobs angle as they will ultimately be part and parcel to whatever wise or foolish strategy one decides to follow. After all, even Sec Gates mentioned the jobs uptick on the F-35 line (in April) as a pre-emption to the crys about losses on the F-22 line.

    And I take issue with your “at up to $300 million each” statement, which infers a flyway cost figure. Your cost figure is closer to what many quote as the per unit life program cost of the plane, which is somewhere in the $340 million per copy range at present. And any number of sources quote a marginal cost of one more airframe as being somewhere in the $140-$160M range, depending on how you leverage certain things like upgrade costs and possible line closing fees and where they are/are not added in.

    I always say I can be proven wrong, but that is my “case” as I’d put it on today’s post. And, despite my issues with today’s post, keep up the fight against fiscal defense folly in DC – it’s one they need to hear repeatedly and you do a good job of fighting the fight.



  10. Defiant permalink
    July 18, 2009 11:59 am

    I wouldn’T describe it as caold war relicts, those are weapons for symmetrical warfare. There is currently no symmetrical war and there are currently no hints for a symmetricalwar, but that doesn’t mean there never will be. Due to afghanistan and iraq the western armies ended up with a shitload of mrap variants which are only useful on roads. If in the (far away) future troops will be removed from afghanistan, we will have these vehicles which are not in the slightest useful for homeland defense and with their immense fuel consumption and weight/size you can’t use them (effectively) for transport/mp/personell-carrier either.

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