DoD Buzz

Weekend wrap: Expeditionary links

At the close of a week in which congressional lawmakers and service officials hammered away again and again about the dangers of deep DoD budget cuts, there were many stories we didn't get a chance to write about. Here were a few of them:

• AvWeek's Andy Nativi reports from Italy that Boeing is pulsing out details for advanced new upgrades it could include aboard future international versions of its F/A-18 Super Hornets, including conformal fuel tanks and enclosed weapons pods.

• Our own John Reed, of Defense Tech fame, had Lockheed's latest details about the F-35's flight test accomplishments.

• The Christian Science Monitor's Gail Russell Chaddock asked and answered this provocative question: What if the super committee fails? Maybe nothing. (Wouldn't we all look silly for spending all this time and energy on DoD and the Hill's doomsday fears?)

• Bloomberg's Roxana Tiron and Tony Capaccio report that GE finally got its much-sought meeting with DepSecDef Ash Carter to try to revivify its campaign for its F136 alternate engine for the F-35. Although Carter heard GE's pitch, it doesn't sound like DoD is going to budge here.

• Special bonus Capaccio story! Wrote Tony: "Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. made excess profit selling the U.S. Army helicopter parts that it bought at a lower price from the Pentagon’s primary supply agency, the Defense Department’s inspector general says.

• We've been hearing a lot of warnings about the prospect of a "hollow force," but the Lexington Institute's Daniel Goure writes that it actually might be a goal worth aiming for. Suppose, he writes, the Pentagon dialed back its numbers of costly troops but continued buying new high-quality weapons and equipment to keep in reserve:

"In some equipment categories there might be more platforms available than crews to man them. The remainder would go into mothball to be swapped out periodically with operational systems so that the overall force ages symmetrically. In some categories, nuclear-powered ships, for example, it would be difficult to simply lay up new construction. But overall it might be possible for a hollowing out strategy to preserve the critical industrial base and even vital modernization programs."

Ah yes -- there it is. As long as the cash keeps flowing to the makers of vehicles, aircraft, ships and equipment, who cares if there aren't enough service members for them, right? This way the industrial base stays intact and if there's a war, you can just mobilize a strengthened Guard and Reserve, "and then through a call for volunteers or even a draft."

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