Paper 'n Ink -- Pentagon Bargins
Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:36 AM
A lot of pundits consider the cartoon at the left of this item to be a proper commentary on the status of our military.
Recent cuts to the huge Pentagon budget would have these same folks tell us that we are in dire straits when it comes to being prepared for a world scene growing ever more dangerous.
Numbers, however, especially costs of government services, can be deceptive. Trying to make sense of such huge expenses sees the regular citizen left in the lurch.
Some research on the 'net provided this information..."Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has put forward a new Pentagon budget totaling $496 billion for the 2015 fiscal year.
"The New York Times reports that the budget cuts the size of the Army to pre-World War II levels, reduces personnel benefits, ends use of the A-10 aircraft, and much more. The budget is a decrease from last year’s $526.6 billion proposal.
"However, nuclear weapons are found in the Department of Energy budget and veterans’ costs in the Veterans Administration budget. So when Slate.com reprinted Business Insider’s chart comparing U.S. military spending with the next ten biggest military budgets, the total U.S. military budget in 2012, $682 billion, eclipses their combined sum of $652 billion."
Weapons systems, like everything else in an ever-evolving world become outdated. The A10, nicknamed the Warthog, has apparently been replaced by something newer and more useful. It is an airframe using processed uranium shells which was developed to take out enemy armor.
Armed force personnel, ground troops and their associated support units are being pared back due to Iraq and Afghanistan withdrawals, as those war fronts are winding down and out.
Still, the Pentagon is spending big bucks on newer and more technical weapons. The use of drones are increasing with robotic units seeing more uses including bigger roles in future battlefield applications. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Warthogs have been replaced with drone aircraft capable of taking out tanks in any terrain.
Drones are becoming more capable with every new technique and added technological upgrades.
The military is also spending a lot of money on new piloted fighter planes. F-35A: US$153.1 million (Flyaway cost, 2013); F-35B: US$196.5M (flyaway cost, 2012); F-35C: US$199.4M (flyaway cost, 2013).
According to a recent 60 Minutes report for CBS, a major advantage our pilots will gain from this aircraft is a half-million dollar computerized helmet which projects a 360 degree picture of the battle space onto the pilot’s visor.
The Pentagon is scheduled to spend over $300 billion on this system in the next decade and they anticipate spending over $800 billion between now and the 2030s for these airplanes.
So, we aren't spending much anymore, as we fork over more than $150 million for each of these planes? But that is peanuts when compared to the expense being paid now for one weapon. The USS Gerald R Ford Aircraft Carrier is costing $14 billion for one U.S. Navy ship.
But what a ship it promises to be. It is the first of its class -- and the first new carrier designed from scratch since the 1960s. The ship will operate with 800 fewer crewmen than current carriers, thanks to an emphasis on a more sensible design and automation.
Reading about the construction of this vessel turns up pretty fantastic statistics. One of those is the electrical system being installed. Eleven million feet of cable wiring travel up and down the Ford. That's a little more than 2,000 miles. In one article found on the internet this paragraph caught my attention..."Electricity is key to the Ford, and the smaller A1B nuclear reactor it carries generates 70 percent more power than previous carriers. It will need the extra juice: The new radar systems, elevators, and electric airplane catapult system will demand a lot of power. The steam pipes that stretched through modern carriers will be replaced, and shipbuilders hope the pipes' frequent maintenance issues will go with them."
It really is a small city floating on the ocean. Floating may not be the appropriate description for this weapons platform that will have a top speed of 38 miles an hour. And with nuclear power, it will be able to maintain that speed for a long time without the need of refueling.
This amazing ship, which will replace the nuclear aircraft carrier Enterprise which has sailed the seas for 50 years, is an engineering marvel. The ship's kitchen will produce 15,000 meals a day. And it is equipped with desalination devices which will convert salt water into 400,000 gallons of fresh water a day.
It will also feature state of the art medical facilities.
This ship will be able to launch fighters, bombers and a myriad of drones to attack an enemy with high tech weaponry in waves and in record times.
The USS Gerald R Ford is set to sail in 2016. Plans are on board for another huge carrier to join the fleet within a few years of this amazing ship.
Considering this huge project, along with the upgrade of our jet fighters, it would seem to me our enemies should beware. While we are retooling our troop numbers and placements after two ground wars wind down, thinking we are getting weaker is not clear thinking on the critics' or our enemies' parts.