Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Obama and the Pentagon

with 2 comments


A quick review of some current American weapons in development and/or production:

F-22 Raptor. A super advanced fighter build to counter a Soviet fighter that never got past the drawing board. They cost $200 million dollars each, the whole program cost more than $60 billion dollars and is tens of billions of dollars over budget and a decade late. (Normal for military weapons programs.)

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This is being built as a replacement form the F-22. Yes, an upgraded version of the F-22, why we need to upgrade a fighter we didn’t need in the fist place is a bit mysterious. This plane does everything, air support, fighter, stealth. Of course once it straps on two two thousand pound bombs it no longer has stealth capability. (Not to mention that World War Two tactical bombers could carry that much bomb tonnage, this is advanced technology?) The total program is over $300 billion now, but with economy of scale each plane will only cost a “modest” $80 million.

V-22 Osprey. Built as a replacement for the CH-46 transport helicopter. It was supposed to be better than the CH-46 in every way. It’s certainly more expensive … and it has a nasty habit of falling out of the sky. The program cost over $50 billion with each aircraft costing over $60 million. Yes, $60 million for a transport aircraft. Fortunately the Osprey has proved to be a success … generals in Iraq really like flying around in it!

B-2. Ah yes, the B-2. The stealth bomber. A plane designed for the express purpose of penetrating Soviet air defences in the event of a nuclear war. A plane that has to have special hangers built for it because its skin can’t handle weather. A bargain at over $700 million each, the whole program cost over $40 billion. What are they good for? Who knows.

Carrier Groups. The US has eleven aircraft carrier groups. The last Nimitz carrier built cost $11 billion. Escorts and aircraft for these carriers cost billions more. How many enemy carrier groups do we expect to be fighting in the next war? Well, none, no one else has the money or inclination to spend on stuff like this. But by God, if the Imperial Japanese Navy sails through a time warp, we’re ready for them!

760 Military Bases. I think that’s some sort of a record. They are all over the world. Most of them have long outlived their usefulness, one is even a holdover from the Spanish American war. We’re using that one for a prison of questionable legality, does that count as useful?

VH-71 Kestrel. This is my favourite, we are going to spend over $400 million each for a fleet 28 custom designed helicopters. What are these 28 helicopters designed for? Ferrying the President from the White House to and from Camp  David. That’s right, over $11 billion to build an air taxi fleet for one man. Different interior decors depending on the president’s mood of the day? This one defies all logic.

Moving right along, the US military long ago ceased to be about fighting wars or defending America. That’s secondary to its mission, which is to funnel staggering sums of money into the world’s second largest industry, the arms industry. The weapons don’t have to work, they don’t even have to be useful. I mean, we haven’t been able to achieve victory in Iraq or Afghanistan in six years, supersonic stealth superweapons are of dubious utility fighting insurgents.

This spending spree isn’t a grey area or opinion either, this is all well documented. It’s so out in the open it’s sickening actually. It’s gotten worse too, there were efforts made in the eighties and nineties to get stuff like this under control. Now there’s not even a pretence of it, since  the mainstream media is owned by the same people who own the weapons industry. Read all about the whole scandalous process here. I especially love how they spread the components production for these weapons over as many states as they can, so that it is politically hard to attack them because the  Pentagon can claim they are “creating jobs.” Deliberately underestimating the eventual cost is also another trick, one the American public keeps falling for apparently.

In any event this isn’t about the mind numbing corruption in America, though I will be getting back to that from time to time. My point is that this is the real test for Obama. He’s the elected commander-in-chief. Will he take control of the military and try to get our insane military spending  under control? Because there’s no question at this point that the USA can no longer afford this sort of military outlay, spending more money on “defence” than the rest of the world combined didn’t make sense in a  good economy, now it’s just hammering nails into our coffin. The battle line have already been drawn, the military is gunning for even more money. What will Obama do? He is the Commander-in-Chief of the military. Will he run the military … or is the military going to run him? If the former happens … I posit there may be hope for America. If the later, at least I will have lots to write about.

(The above image was taken by a US government employee during the course of their duties and is thus public domain under US copyright law. The  image is the XM2001 Crusader, one of the few weapons systems to be cancelled in recent years. It’s porcine aspect got too obvious … Germany and Britain were building a similar gun with better performance at a third the cost.)


Written by unitedcats

February 5, 2009 at 10:52 am

Posted in Business, Crime, War

2 Responses

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  1. It is funny how the media puts SO much focus on energy spending and consumption… but fails to mention in any serious way the global arms trade. Well, maybe funny isn’t the right word.

    For an amusing yet ghastly perspective on the life of an arms dealer I recommend “Lord of War” with Nicholas Cage.


    February 6, 2009 at 9:05 am

  2. F-35 was never intended as Raptor’s “replacement”, it is impossible to compare those two, they are in two completely different leagues. F-22 is far superior not only to F-35, but also to any other fighter plane currently in service or in development.

    I understand you believe it is a waste of money. But keep in mind that the world can change very quickly. Russia is not your problem anymore (although it is mine, as I live in eastern Europe), but there other rising powers you should watch carefully. F-22’s will serve in USAF as air superiority fighters for the next couple of decades and one day you may be grateful you have them around.

    As for this:
    “Not to mention that World War Two tactical bombers could carry that much bomb tonnage, this is advanced technology?”
    Yes, this is advanced technology. You know, cars from the 60’s could hit the speed of your modern family car. The difference is, modern cars burn 60% less fuel, have air conditioning, cruise control, satnav and don’t kill you if you drive into a tree at 30mph. That’s technological advancement.

    As for the comparison to the WW2 bomber – I’m pretty confident that one squadron of F-35’s, which by the way are shaping up to be a big disappointment regarding their capabilities, could easily win the second world war. Provided they had where to land, refuel and load ammunition. In smaller perspective – one F-22 is capable of winning a dogfight with about 30-35 F-16C’s, which are still serving in your army. If you look at this in terms of wasting money – think about wasting money on training 60 pilots, if two guys can do the same in a better plane.

    Jan K.

    March 1, 2009 at 6:26 pm

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