Showing posts with label KC-46. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KC-46. Show all posts

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Military Budget, Military Procurement

We are beginning to hear calls for more spending one the military.  The "sequester" ,a deal Congress set by law a couple of years ago, put a solid lid on military spending, and that lid is beginning to hurt.  There are calls to scrap the "sequester" and give the armed forces a lot more taxpayer money.
   Much of the military budget goes into "procurement" the purchase of food, uniforms, fuel, ammunition, spare parts, and new aircraft and armored fighting vehicles.  Procurment is run by thousands of rear echelon m__therf___kers (REMF for short) at the Pentagon, and the big depots.  They have created whole book selves of "procurement regulations"  which must be consulted and argued over before even a roll of toilet paper can be purchased.  Procurement regulations support and defend a number of scams against the taxpayer.
   For instance, the JEDEC semiconductor scam.  JEDEC semiconductors must be made on special production lines dedicated only to JEDEC work.  To make JEDEC semiconductors on the regular commerical production lines is forbidden.  Since the volume of JEDEC sales is low, the JEDEC lines only get fired up once a year or so, and are shut down as soon as the current order is filled.  Whereas the commercial lines run 24/7.  The people running the commercial lines get plenty of experience, and minor tuning of the process (time in this oven or that oven, concentration of dopant gases, cooling time, lotta stuff) makes the difference between a superior device (higher gain, lower noise, better voltage tolerance, buncha stuff) and junk.  In real life the JEDEC semiconductors, which cost ten times what good commercial devices cost, are inferior in every measurable respect, and a lot of 'em come in dead on arrival. 
   The taxpayers would be well served by scrapping the whole JEDEC scam and building everything with good commercial devices from American silicon foundries. 
   Then there is the urge to gold plate everything.  Can't just buy decent stuff off the shelf, everything has to be built special for the military.  The KC-46 tanker should have taken a commercial airliner, pulled out the seats, and installed fuel tanks.  Instead, the Air Force insisted that Boeing redo all the wiring on the airplane "to meet USAF specs",  Boeing talked the Air Force into replacing the entire cockpit with the fancier all digital and touch screen cockpit from the 787.  At government expense.  Add in a rediculous amount of test flying, and the program is late and way over budget.
   And everything takes too long.  Every year a project is in the R and D mode, it sucks up money.  In WWII we could design a new aircraft and get it into production inside of a year.  The current F-35 has been aborning, and sucking up money for twenty years and it still isn't combat ready. 
    Bottom line.  We need to straighten out procurement more than we need to pour mor money into it. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program halted.

The losers (Lockheed Martin and Boeing) filed a protest of the contract award to Northrup Grumman.  GAO ordered a stop work for 100 days while they sort thru the paperwork.  Take a 3 month schedule hit right there.  GAO might, after the 100 day hangup, approve the contract award or order the contract rebid, which will take a year. 
   The losers objections are unclear, and mostly unpublished.  What has come out is the Air Force looked at the bidder's re recurring engineering bids and using a lot of bad past experience doubled  all the bids.  Not a bad idea,  contractors typically bid low to get a foot in the door, thinking that they will be able to get their profit margins back up when the Government orders changes, which it always does.  But, what ought to happen when the contractor's underbid, is the government holds them to the original contract.  Fifty years ago, Lockheed under bid on the C-5 job.  USAF made them eat the difference between what Lockheed spent and what Lockheed bid. 
   Fifty years later, USAF lacks that kind of stones.  And, the last big program USAF put out for bid, the KC-46 tanker job, was a disaster.  Boeing protested the award to Airbus, got the contract rebid, and walked away with it.  And Boeing is doing cost overruns and schedule slippages right now. 
   It's hard to tell from where I live want the real story is.  Could be, GAO is allowing a frivolous protest to slow the program down.  Could be USAF did another KC-46 style bungle.  Could be Pentagon procurement regulations are so screwed up that nothing works.  Any way, the program is delayed by the bureaucrats, and delays always raise the cost to the taxpayer. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Making haste slowly, and cost enhancement

After two previous snafu's, Boeing got the Air Force contract for the KC-46 tanker.  That only took 7 or 8 years of well paid lawyer work to sort out.  The original idea was to buy the well proven Boeing 767 airliner, take out the seats and fill the cabin with tanks.  Somewhere along the line, the gold plate boys slipped in a few cost enhancements.  They called for the aircraft wiring to be redesigned to USAF specs.  Never mind that the commercial 767 has been flying safely for 25 years using Boeing designed wiring.  Never mind that Boeing knows more about how to wire an aircraft than everyone in the Air Force all put together.  And to add insult to injury, someone dropped the ball, and the first few aircraft off the line lacked the USAF spec wiring.  Boeing last year took a $425 million pre tax charge for this.  Cost enhancement at work, again. 
   And then someone slipped in a requirement for extensive flight testing.  They are talking about making 65 test flights a month, which is a helova lotta flying.  I doubt they will make that schedule.  Never mind that this is a well proven commercial airliner with an excellent safety record going back 25 years, we are gonna flight test it like it is a brand new clean sheet design that have never flown before.  Cost enhancement at work, again.